Interview with RedSeven Entertainment’s Jobst Benthues

- in INTERVIEWS, The Drum
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BOBCM DACH Region Edition co-editor Sandra Freisinger-Heinl caught-up with RedSeven Entertainment GmbH’s Managing Director Jobst Benthues to discuss connecting a brand’s DNA with a TV show:

Many brands would like to tap into the high reach of TV with their own successful show using a branded content format. Jobst Benthues, Managing Director of RedSeven Entertainment GmbH, explains how this works and tells us the winning factors to bear in mind when creating branded entertainment for TV.

How do you develop successful branded entertainment for TV?

It’s all about good content – always. Every successful TV programme is also a suitable vehicle to carry a branded promotional story. So it makes sense to bring the experience of a TV production company into the mix when developing your branded content initiative.

Previously, ideas often came from advertising agencies. Now, branded content formats are being developed and produced by the professionals who already specialise in making TV shows – we call it media created by media experts. Most importantly, this process needs to focus on content, and that requires an insider approach so that the TV programme is produced in the right way for the relevant brand. This is essential for success.

Ideally, a show with a branded content format should also work without a brand. Just like a normal TV show, the branded content has to excite the viewers. A good example of this is ‘Maybelline Make-Up School’ for L’Oréal, which airs every year alongside the show ‘Germany’s next Topmodel’.

For more than 10 years now, this branded content programme has been more or less as successful as the model casting show itself. Why? In Maybelline Make-Up School, celebrity make-up artist Boris Entrup gives beauty advice by presenting the latest looks from Germany’s next Topmodel on models from the cast. This entertains and reaches L’Oréal’s precise target group. However, Maybelline Make-Up School would also be interesting to young girls if it didn’t have the branded element – that’s what makes it so successful.

What are the key factors to bear in mind during the format development process?

You need to start with a strong programme idea. TV broadcasters decide on new formats by establishing the specific challenges of certain time slots. TV production companies work out the best kind of format to use in each slot. Then the brand comes into play.

What appeal does the brand contribute? Which key messages should be communicated? And – most importantly – would a viewer also watch

the show if it’s a broadcast without a brand association, in a normal TV format?

The format of a branded content show has to be appropriate for the broadcaster and the brand, and it has to work on multiple levels. It has to be created in a way that enables the show (and therefore the brand) to achieve maximum reach and that you can extend across social media and second screen.

How do you make TV viewers enthusiastic about a branded content format and a brand?

With branded content, you can create the same incentive to view as with normal TV shows. The viewer of an advertorial-style show can feel entertained and informed in the same way as they do when watching any TV show.

One example of this is ‘Fiat Urban Stories’, a lifestyle TV show featuring the iconic Fiat 500 car.

In the show, popular German TV presenter Annemarie Carpendale interviews various interesting people – artists, comedians, musicians, athletes – in various cities, inside a roving Fiat 500 car. This show married interesting content with the right celebrity

presenter and a twist on distribution – different episodes were broadcast on women’s TV channel sixx and on men’s channel ProSieben MAXX.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t differentiate between branded entertainment and other entertainment on TV. You must approach the development of branded content with the same rigour as producing Germany’s next Topmodel, The Taste, or other TV shows. Only then will you reach a large audience and the right kind of viewers for a specific brand.

This interview was originally published in the BOBCM DACH Region Edition (2015) co-edited by Sandra Freisinger-Heinl and Greta MacFarlane.


About the author

Justin Kirby is a consultant, educator and thought leader with a 20+ year career in industry as a digital strategist, producer and entrepreneur. He chairs and speaks at conferences around the globe, judge industry awards, and advise brands and agencies.