In what situations do you recommend using branded content?
Where you have a brand that is willing to give creative freedom to people who have proven credentials in telling great stories. There is a huge amount of content out there nowadays, so the content needs to be great to compete and it won’t be if it has a marketing manager interfering too much in the creator’s vision. You also need to get the right people on the job. For example, if it’s long-form content, this requires a very different skillset to writing a 30-second commercial. Brands can often afford to pay creators and writers more money than they earn elsewhere, so they should be employing the very best people. If the brand can’t afford to put proper money into making the content and marketing that content then it shouldn’t do it. Even great content needs a healthy marketing budget.
The rewards of creating great branded content can be enormous, but the risks are also higher so you need a brand willing to take that risk. There are ways to mitigate that risk however. One is to spend good money in getting the idea and the scripts right, because if they’re not the project is guaranteed to fail.
You also need a client that understands that their brand needs to be seamlessly integrated into the content. Where it is a part of a great story, the audience will love the brand but where it is awkwardly integrated, they will switch off. There’s no point having branding all over content if nobody ever watches it.
What about emerging trends and insights into the immediate future of branded content?
In Australia, many brands have been too risk averse, and it’s shown in the quality of the product and the lack of success of branded content here in recent years. They need to start assigning proper budgets to it and treating it as not just a sideline project with leftover marketing dollars. They’ve also often tried to produce too much content – much better to make less content but make it bloody good and have the marketing dollars left over to get it out there.