The Wild West of Branded Entertainment:
Discovery, Coca-Cola, IFC/Sundance Channel, PepsiCo, Smirnoff
With the advent of DVR and on-demand technology, advertising commercials are becoming a thing of the past. When consumers favorite button is fast-forward, its no longer about spending huge ad budgets on clever commercials to grab their attention – well not unless they can be aired during the Super Bowl. The focus is now about the production of unscripted/factual brand-funded entertainment, but the industry is struggling to create a perfect formula for success. A number of pioneers in this field shared their successes and failures at realscreen’s Branded Entertainment Forum in New York late last month. With a full-day schedule, the world’s biggest television networks, consumer brands and production companies converged to figure out how make this budding industry work.
Branded Content Takes on The World
“Branded Entertainment is now world-made,” explains Mike Wiese, director of branded content & entertainment at JWT. Last year, JWT assisted Smirnoff to create their Nightlife Exchange Project, a global branded entertainment program that involved Facebook promotions, live events in 14 cities around the world, and successful partnerships with MTV and Madonna. Michelle Klein, Smirnoff’s VP of global marketing, communication and digital, sited a 60% increase in web traffic and over 100,000 entries into Madonna’s search for the world’s best dancer as a result of the campaign, and said it will soon grow to 50 cities around the globe.
Seeing the possibilities for branded entertainment as the answer to the fast-forward button problem, ad agencies and consumer brands are now looking for culturally relevant content for global distribution. However, not everyone has Smirnoff’s resources, so how can others be successful? Frank Cooper II, PepsiCo’s CEO of global consumer engagement, advises that whatever you do, “it has to add value to consumers.” Tony Weisman, president of Digitas’ Chicago-Boston-Detroit region, said the key is “knowing what’s happening now to keep it relevant” and “to start in a small country to prove the concept.”
Several companies sited partnerships as their recipe for success. “The best way to get into the game is to partner,” said Colby Caines, founder of Back Roads Entertainment, a creative content production company. And partner is exactly what Discovery’s Senior VP Jocelyn Egan did to present the ambitious multi-year, multi-platform Curiosity series. As a presenting partner, Intel received broad exposure through the series’ first 16 episodes and educational website curiosity.com. As a result of its success, Discovery has produced 60 one-hour episodes.
In 2002, 10 seasons ago, CAA Marketing brought together Coca-Cola and American Idol for what has developed into one of the most successful and enduring branded entertainment partnerships of all time. Jed Selkowitz, director of entertainment marketing for The Coca-Cola Company’s North American division, and Ned McNeilage, creative director of CAA Marketing / Creative Artists Agency, were on hand to explain how the right partnerships and integrated marketing efforts can pay off in a big way. “When everything is integrated and works together, they (campaigns) are far more powerful, ” explains McNeilage.
Do We Need Broadcasting Networks Anymore?”
With YouTube now firmly ensconced as an entertainment destination and moving further into original content creation along with other online portals such as Hulu and Yahoo, realScreen editors think it’s a safe bet that more producers and brands will make forays into digital episodic content. So what is the future of network TV?
The consensus at the Forum was that network TV and digital channels of distribution serve different purposes and are both powerful and relevant. Peter Naylor, NBC/Universal’s EVP of digital media sales, gave a presentation about how television is no longer a passive experience, and factual entertainment, as seen with various live competition shows over the years, is perfectly poised to take advantage of the new possibilities afforded by social TV. NBC’s smash singing competition The Voice leveraged social TV to create on of the most talked about – and watched – hits of the past year.
What Works and Why? The Measurement Question
realscreen sited a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Association of National Advertisers that stated while close to two-thirds of client-side marketers say they aim to use branded entertainment campaigns in 2012, 65% of respondents also said they were unsatisfied with the quality of research available to measure its effectiveness. And 37% of companies that don’t use branded entertainment campaigns citied lack of measurable results as the key reason.
Christie Kawada, PH.D., The Nielson Company’s SVP of strategic marketing science, and Evan Shapiro, President of IFC tv and Sundance Channel described new measurement techniques they are working on, including Messaging Innovation Metric (MIM). They described various measurement factors including “relevance”, “engagement” (strength of emotion), “exposure”, “transference” and “need states.” The Nielson Company is currently working with its clients to develop these and other measurement tools.
Some companies have clear measurement tools in place. Robert Friedman, president of @Radical.Media, worked with Amex on its Unstaged program and said they measured its success by the cost per member acquired during the campaign. Others sited web traffic results and online consumer engagement through social media as a factor they evaluate.
Downloads from the Forum are available for free on realscreen's website.
Written by Chandra Lynn, principal of Glow Marketing LLC, an entertainment marketing and branding agency. http://www.glowmarketing.com