Standard Bank and its media agency OMD have proven that the future of customer marketing is branded content. Shireen Jaftha, the agency’s senior channel strategist, is a firm believer in that branded content has moved way beyond its earliest incarnation of simple product placements on TV shows to include a range of additional, added-value approaches.
Content can, for instance, be written into the storyline of popular TV soapies or can include customised radio and TV programmes that act as a vehicle for the client’s brand.
All of these variations are designed to increase engagement with and attachment to the brand and they’re most effective within an integrated context. In short, they work best when supported by creatively driven promotions, competitions and social media campaigns that increase chatter about the brand, drive traffic to the client’s web site, increase downloads of product information and apps, and create an emotional bond between the brand and the customer or potential customer.
OMD proved the success of such a campaign through a branded content campaign for Standard Bank’s Access Banking, which includes a five-minute drama that airs twice weekly on the SABC’s African Language Stations, followed by a competition based on the content of the drama. In 2013 the programme elicited 629 000 SMS responses over a 30 week campaign and 54 downloads a week.
There can also be up to 54 000 downloads of the drama itself, which further promotes awareness, likeability and recall. The message is reinforced via a storyline in popular soapie, Isidingo.
The agency scooped a gold award for the best integrated campaign in the finance category at this year’s Advertising and Media Association of South Africa (AMASA) awards ceremony, which was the only campaign of its kind in the finance category.
The campaign was based on the branded content methodologies we have developed over the past two years. These aim to close the gap between online and offline content, as well as the perennial gap between above-the-line and below-the-line channels. In an increasingly diversified and cluttered media environment, we have expanded and developed our definition of branded content in order to enrich customers’ awareness of and engagement with our clients’ brands.
With this in mind, our integrated campaigns that make use of branded content are based on three outcomes-based objectives: to position and raise awareness of the brand; to educate customers and potential customers about the features and benefits of the product or product range; and to encourage engagement between the brand and its various audiences.
It is this engagement that is key to the success of these campaigns, especially in the financial services sector. This is evident in the enthusiastic response to a five-minute radio drama that forms part of the AccessBanking campaign, which airs twice weekly.
The success of elements like these lies in the fact that they engage audiences who are comfortable with using their cell phones, but who either cannot or do not engage online. Especially when targeting audiences in the lower LSMs, this gives the client unprecedented reach, and has the added effect of creating a strong platform for selling and cross-selling.
Another benefit is that empirical measurement based on audience ratings, web traffic and SMS response rates is very accessible, and allows for immediate feedback on the success of a campaign.
Branded content must, however, be seen within the context of all of the other communications channels being used for a given campaign. Traditional above-the-line media like TV, newspapers and magazines get eyes onto the brand. Branded content and supporting below-the-line initiatives such as competitions, promotions, downloads, apps and social media campaigns build on this awareness in order to increase impact and likeability. This is further strengthened when we are able to engage individuals on a personal level and create an emotional bond between the brand and the customer.
This is where we had so much to bring to the party in terms of expertise, creativity and implementation. Integrated campaigns with a branded content component can have huge benefits for clients, especially those in the financial services sector, as they need to communicate a complex range of products, features and benefits in a way that requires so much more than just getting eyes onto the brand.
Shireen Japhta is senior channel strategist at OMD.
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.