More and more South African brands are turning towards advertiser funded programmes (AFPs) in an effort to differentiate themselves in a saturated media landscape.
AFPs also helps them to forge deeper relationships with their consumers.
AFPs offer brands an opportunity to develop a stronger and more meaningful relationship with the content that their audiences love. It also gives them more creative control than they would get from simply sponsoring a show.
People still love television and watch a great deal of it, even with growing competition from digital media. However, with rapidly expanding choice of channels and with alternatives such as YouTube, ShowMax, and Netflix, the way viewers consume TV content is changing. Brands must look beyond the confines of the traditional 30-second ad spot to find ways to inspire consumers and influence their behaviour.
AFP refers to TV programming that the brand shapes directly through its financial support, creative input, and marketing resources. The brand’s role in creating the content is integral – unlike a sponsorship where the brand simply pays to be associated with content that it doesn’t own or have a role in crafting.
The attraction of getting involved in a television programme at this level is that the brand can be a custodian of the content and even own the intellectual property. AFPs are a compelling way to tell credible, brand-relevant stories. The brand can tailor the content to its own marketing needs, while owning the programming space to the exclusion of competitors.
The power of AFPs is that it allows a brand to create a range of ways to tell its story. Branded content can be crafted for multiplatform broadcasting with sharing across social media giving it life beyond the initial screening. Really smart brands make AFPs work by coordinating their marketing efforts within a 360-degree campaign that encompasses radio, print, in-store activations, digital and social media.
AFPs are not necessarily quick or simple to roll out. Brands must be deeply involved in development – from conceptualisation to execution – and have a genuine understanding of their target market and the world their consumers live in.
To ensure a return on investment, brands also need to be willing to make branded content a cornerstone of a wider, integrated marketing campaign. And they must be prepared to build the programme up over a couple of seasons.
The most successful examples of AFPs centre on the needs of the viewer rather than on selling a product. Pick n Pay’s ‘Food for Living’ is a recent AFP campaign that Mediamark helped to compile. The brand had launched a new food range for diabetics and wanted to create awareness of the product and Diabetes month in November.
Mediamark and Pick n Pay jointly conceptualised a series of 10 five-minute cooking shows for broadcast on Glow TV. The objective was to demonstrate how to transform typical Indian meals into diabetic-friendly cuisine and in the process, drive in-store traffic. The campaign was driven through social media. A recipe book was created for download and the series was also supported by outdoor and radio.
Content will always take the crown, so AFPs are all about exciting and entertaining audiences. Brands looking to play in this space need to understand the art of storytelling to engage the interest of savvy consumers.
As Mediamark MD, Talib Sadik, says, “We see AFPs playing a valuable role in integrated media and marketing strategies as brands look for new ways to stand out from the crowd. They enable brands to break through marketing clutter and reach consumers with engaging content that entertains and informs them, adding value to their lives.”
Zaheera Mahomed is brand content manager for TV at Mediamark