In an era of hypertasking, ads and information overload, where we can choose to consume content when and where we want and equally block or turn off the noise, brands are turning to connect with their audiences in a variety of ways. Of particular interest are methods where they can regain the driving seat when it comes to messages they want us to see, hear and take away. Cue branded video, take three. Or is it five?
Both content marketing strategy and branded content are clearly not new to the party in 2020, but it’s the clever stuff that will stand out in the year to come. The use of tailored copy to improve visibility for businesses or individuals is now entrenched as a fundamental building block of comms. Even companies taking charge of audio is no longer an out of the ordinary comms vehicle, but accessible to all. Podcasts are now so commonplace in business that the bigger ask is to separate the valuable from the rest of the pack when it comes to curating your on regular ‘must listen’ chart. But a focus on true and inspired video – which can elevate a brand and its voice in a unique way, rather than amplifying another medium’s creative, remains somewhat elusive. There’s lots of video around from film quality spots and games, but how much of it really makes you stop scrolling or multitasking and take notice? Much of what has been out there tips the scales too far in the brand’s favour to be truly engaging as anything other than a de facto advert, by another name. Or, the bumpers and sponsored idents around content have been brand name checks only, bearing just a passing resemblance to the content itself. Could this be the year where the fulcrum balances in the middle?
If branded content is not about products and services but values, makes use of storytelling and designed to encourage engagement and facilitating an emotional connection, to be consumed voluntarily, then two campaigns have caught our eye so far this year – and it’s not even the end of January yet. Both the Creme Egg streaming service and the Greenpeace Aardman turtles video speak to a marriage of brand, medium and a creative team working in equal harmony. It’s clear that from concept onwards, both parties in brand and production have been working properly hand in hand rather than on two separate streams.
There’s also a clear communication of intent and purpose. Creme eggs have positioned themselves firmly ‘for the fans’ for years now, so the launch of a dedicated egg-focused streaming content platform exclusively for its eggheads is both playful and true to the brand. Whereas Aardman’s partnership with Greenpeace speaks to a genuine purpose to draw attention to an overlooked ecological area, without commercial considerations or hidden motives. It’s raising awareness for nature’s sake. If these genuine and true partnership elements are both present when production meets brand, it could be the ideal date to kick off a lasting relationship. After all, we’ve all heard the monologues about brand purpose being rooted in a genuine understanding of the brand, and how it needs to be sustained to be credible – rather than good will washing a company or organisations image.
At this rate, this year looks set to show us still more perfect partners of production and brand purpose. We say – bring it on. Standout examples of what happens when great minds come together in unison are few and far between. Let’s celebrate making them the norm instead – and help brand comms and the production industry to go from strength to strength at the same time.