Advertising

Fellow Agency Peeps: how many of you have actually played a direct role in conceiving and producing branded content? In your opinion, when does something stop being an ad and start being content?

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media IS thé difference

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The difference between an ad and content is the source and the money for distribution. When we create a funny video, it’s content. When we create a funny video with brand messaging and stick it in front of millions of eyeballs via highly targeted paid media buys, it’s an ad. Great ads can be great content also. But once you pay for your message (any message, not just for a brand — political, religious, personal, they all count) to be distributed, then it’s an ad.

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This is a relatively lazy distinction but I think with content (theoretically) you’re creating something that people give a shit about...whether they’re learning, crying, engaging etc. Theres some intrinsic value to the audience where as an as truly serves only the brand. There are, of course, good examples to prove me wrong here, but there’s also somewhat of a blurred line.

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Not lazy at all. You’re spot on. Branded content is something that people actually want to watch instead of being forced to watch. Engagement is the key and if people don’t want to engage it’s just an ad.

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Done a few projects in this space and the answer is never. The reason isn’t entirely altruistic, if at all: there are simply too many eyes on everything and the risks of creating a viral astroturfing storm far too high. You defuse that via transparency about sponsorship combined with making sure the content actually has organic stand-alone value. I know of one brand that actually created its own fully disclosed local digital newspaper; it’s become the go-to news source for the community since the only alternatives offer broader and less relevant regional coverage. BTW: the ethics and realities of this tactic don’t preclude being strategically clever. One of my personal favs was making the case for replacing a historic, but defunct, racetrack to allow a developer to replace it with a smart-use commercial/residential new project. We incorporated the messaging into a faux-public service campaign on “how to recycle everything” (including an old and decaying racetrack) that capitalized on the “higher and better use” meaning of recycling. People loved it.

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We recently did a YouTube reality show for Jenny Craig where we followed a couple in their 30s who was looking to lose weight and started Jenny Craig. We were shocked at how little branding we were allowed to get away with. I think it turned out to be a really nice balance and seemed more like a sponsorship then a commercial.

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I’m ignoring your question just to say The LEGO Movie should’ve won an adamantium Cannes Lion for Branded Content.

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Ad ignite discussion. Content surf on it.

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Slight tangent, but... is a blockbuster film actually an ad? (Targeted media strategy, full of product placement, huge money spent on distribution, etc)

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If the blockbuster film were made, bought, and paid for by say Heineken, then yes, it would fall into the advertising category. But if it's say a Marvel movie, then no. Those movies are products.

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Everything is an ad.

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IMO when you are focusing more on the brand than on the product.

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Everything is content. Including an ad.

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I’ve worked on branded content. An ad is focused on the product with communicated intent to sell something. A piece of branded content is an interesting thing that adds value in a way that aligns with your brand. For example: An Apple ad will tell you about the benefits of the iPhone. A piece of branded content for Apple would be a tutorial series from a handful of artists showing you their ideation process (with Apple product placement). It’s about showing something intrinsically interesting to your audience and soft selling your product in the process.

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Is there a call to action? An end card with the brand logo that drives you somewhere? Does that talent direct the viewer to do something / engage with the brand (you can have these results to, visit .com to see how). More content than you think is actually an ad, and you should be telling your Business Affairs people about it before you go into production and let them decide.

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Ah, yes, all good. 👍🏻

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