Australasia 2016: John Ford at The One Centre

- in 2016, Australasian Insights 2016, Insight Series
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John Ford is the CEO & Founder at The One Centre, and he provided the following responses for our 2016 Australasia Expert Insights Report:

In what situations do you recommend using branded content?

Honestly, I can’t think of a situation where we wouldn’t recommend using branded content. The power of storytelling in long-format in all its genres can do so much for so many:

  • Unpack the complex
  • Humanise the faceless
  • Show off the incredible
  • Bring culture to the dry
  • Etcetera, etcetera,

It basically unlocks the full spectrum of news, entertainment, theatre, music, photography, art, documentary, serious and silly for brands to attack their brand challenges and opportunities.

Ads use formulas. Branded content allows brands to create new formulas.

What about emerging trends and insights into the immediate future of branded content?

I think the really interesting movement at the moment is the shift from branded content trying not to look like branded content to being much more confident and challenging in the use of the brand in the content. This is the next wave, and I think you see it most successfully explored in tribal industries like fashion, surfing, snowboarding where the brands are part of the culture and not perceived as hangers-on. They are the culture. The cultural aspects of brands and the role of the brand as part of culture, contributing to it authentically and being regarded as a necessary part of it all, that’s the edge. It’s not just an executional challenge, but a positioning challenge and then bold thinking about what a brand can really do / be. So much of our time is spent on trying to work out how to work the brand into the narrative, or express the brand narrative in a convincing way with the context of entertainment. All this is very timid, transition thinking. It’s like playing at Rock n Roll. Very soon we are going to see some incredibly confident and paradigm-challenging work from brands, for brands and for their consumers, that isn’t apologising for its presence. It is the presence.

I think this is an international thing. I wouldn’t call it a trend yet, but it’s going to happen and it will jump shift all the benchmarks we currently use. It’s going to be artful, but not at hiding.

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.