Good content should do two things: entertain and sell. You want a viewer to watch your content until the end, then buy a product, a concept, and/or a way of thinking. This applies to whether that’s a happy ending or a can of soda. When you create good content, this also yields two results: an action and a payoff. The viewer should take some sort of action towards the emotions that have been invoked and those who distributed the content should receive some sort of reward in the form of social engagement via follows or shares or lead to a sale.
The best content can do this without the viewer ever truly knowing. That’s the beauty of branded content.
Content Marketing is what you see regularly, a standard commercial where the product or service is the focus. Branded content, on the other hand, is any media that is sponsored by an advertiser or company. It’s a little easier to understand with a few examples.
The Hire – BMW – BMW Films
One of the first, and still favorites of MB, introduced the world to Clive Owen. So, thank you BMW! It’s the story of a rugged British wheelman. Each episode is a different mission directed by a different award-winning director (John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guy Ritchie) and well-known stars (Gary Oldman, Don Cheadle and James effing Brown).
Everyone talked about these shorts with friends when they first dropped online. They were awesome. Most importantly, how cool did Clive Owen look driving those cars? They were the real star. Clive would whip around corners, outrun bad guys, and complete the mission all while behind the wheel of those beautiful cars. And we know we weren’t the only ones who noticed, within the first 4 months it had 11 million views (which now is nothing, but it was the early 2000s, before YouTube! So that’s great.) and in 2001 sales went up 12%.
OKGO – MORTON SALT – Ogilvy & Mather
Music videos are usually a medium made up of branded content. Here’s entertaining content with the purpose of selling you a song. The video itself can vary from literal live action of the lyrics or completely different.
What a great video. We’re such big fans of OkGo and how they continue to push for entertaining music videos. They can get a little schticky but it works and raises awareness for the music. In the same sense, their video for “The One Moment” is not only doing it for the song but a brand, Morton Salt. Watching it a second time through, you realize that not only is their timing amazing but the beautiful particles flying through the air is salt.
COMEDIANS IN CARS GETTING COFFEE — ACURA
Jerry Seinfeld has consistently been an innovator of content; Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is no less. Jerry cruises in vintage cars, chatting about whatever comes to mind over coffee with some of the funniest people on the planet. But more important than any of this; it’s great branded content. Seinfeld approached many companies but finally landed on Acura, who has been with the show through the transition from Crackle to Netflix. Jerry and Acura have even found ways to poke fun at standard product placement. This may not be the most subtle but they don’t have to be subtle; Acura is producing the show.
I know, cool examples, but the proof is in the pudding. Nielsen studies found that recall for brands was at 86% for branded content while at 65% for regular ads. As well, a consumer is 14% more likely to seek out additional content from said brand. The most important thing is that well-received branded content has a “central personality, unique concept, and connection with the audience.”
Maybe every project doesn’t seemingly warrant branded content, but why not? When given the opportunity, why not go with the path with better results? Not only will you have a better ROI, but more dynamic content.
One last thing that can be said about these branded content examples is that they are truly memorable. We remember “The Hire” series to this day, still talk about it, and love it. OkGo’s video will live online forever and entertain no matter when viewed. Lastly, Jerry Seinfeld has once again created a series that will be watched for years.
You might even say there is a third goal to branded content: timelessness.