Oh how I love my PVR! After years of being in the advertising and communications business, my husband and I delight in zapping the rubbish ads and moving on to what we really want to watch – the programme! It’s a global trend that is resulting in more and more interest being placed on Advertiser Funded Programmes (AFPs) with some really interesting results.
After working for the past eight years on developing South Africa’s leading CSI advertiser funded content platform, Kaelo Stories of Hope, we are being approached more and more to develop relevant programme content for a wide range of forward thinking clients who are feeling the ‘zap. Clients are asking for strategies and help in creating a meaningful talking point around brand promise and values.
It’s a real art to create relevant, meaningful and entertaining broadcast content which has a comfortable space for clients to be integrated. It’s an inversion of the classic marketing approach where the brand leads and the story follows. In this discipline, the content always leads and the brand follows sometimes quite obscurely.
Clients need to get comfortable with the idea that a brand can be built without showing or sometimes even mentioning the brand – but simply through association with relevant content. Great entertainment can be a powerful brand builder.
Branded content development is not a skill necessarily found within the classic industry repertoire and globally, several independent and global agencies have recognised this, opening dedicated units to explore and concentrate on AFP platforms for clients.
JWT Entertainment have been operating for a decade in this space, and BBH London have branded content as a particular service offering creating a number of short films and inserts for broadcast which have not mentioned a client, but rather sought to spark debate, interest and media coverage for clients indirectly (some great examples on their web-site).
It’s clear that the skills here are not about making short 30 second television ads where the brand is king, but creating films of various lengths which really engage the viewer where the content is king.
In the past year, Mindshare Entertainment created an online entertainment series ‘In the Motherhood’ for clients Unilever and Sprint that was picked up by ABC and aired as a half-hour comedy series – demonstrating that the right branded content can also generate revenue and be leveraged through distribution deals on various platforms. The mind boggles when you think of all the great content which could be created for SABC for example using the Branded Content and Entertainment model!
Branded Content and Entertainment has also recently been added as an award category in the marketing industry. We look forward to the same being added to our own Loeire or Prism Awards in future as more communication agencies develop the skills and work with some of our great independent local production companies in developing new entertaining content that I can zap the ads to get to!
Sara Butchart is strategy director of Kaelo Engage, a content development agency specialising in social development, transport and consumer –lifestyle content.