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THE MEDIA APRIL 2018

BRANDED CONTENT The next Holy Grail: Branded Content Marketing strategies have had to evolve as consumers demand less intrusive, more compelling advertising methods. BRITTA REID explores why branded content is the latest fad, but is it just that? A fad which will soon go out of fashion… Globally, 61% of Generation X, Y and Z claim they skip ads whenever they can, either by using ad-blockers or by turning their attention elsewhere, according to Kantar Millward Brown’s AdReaction Study 2017. It is little wonder then, that the same company, in its Media and Digital Predictions for 2018, made the prognostication that this would be the year that “branded entertainment takes centre stage”. While marketers and advertisers internationally are entranced by the new possibilities created when brands and entertainment, or indeed any content, intersect, haziness and confusion also seem to shroud the discipline. When the Branded Content Marketing Association (BCMA) commissioned a collaborative research project, conducted by Oxford Brookes University and Ipsos MORI, it became apparent that even experienced communication practitioners struggled to agree on a definition of branded content. They often found it easier to describe what it was not: Not an interruptive advertisement. (This was published, in 2016, under the imposing title ‘Defining branded content for the digital age. The industry experts’ views on branded content as a new marketing communications concept.’) This has not deterred South African marketers and advertisers from plunging into branded content with so much enthusiasm, that Deborah Brady, commercial director for Africa of Discovery Networks CEEMEA, humorously proposed that it has become the “bees’ knees” locally. Slightly cynically, Duncan Irvine, co-founder and CEO of Rapid Blue, suggested there was something of a three-year trend lag in South Africa, and that the communications industry was currently sprinting to catch up on this trend. The level of commitment from marketers is wide, as is the range of formats being employed. At one end of the spectrum, Standard Bank developed Your Next Million to “capture the attention of our mass market audience with a highly interactive long duration solution,” Julio Rodrigues, OMD SA unit director, explained. By utilising the tried and tested game show format, while focusing the contenders’ tasks and questions on financial wellbeing, Rodrigues said they have produced “a game show that delivers strong engagement levels and frequency through appointment viewing. To ensure we remained relatable we included a well known celebrity, Thembisa Mdoda, and secured airtime on South Africa’s largest TV station at 20:27 on SABC 1, between Generations and Uzalo”. But branded content need not only be the domain of the deep-pocketed top 20 advertiser. As Fahmeeda Cassim-Surtee, CEO: of DStv Media Sales (SA), points out, “That’s the beauty of branded content – it gives the opportunity for small advertisers who don’t have big budgets to also compete. In the world of branded content, brands don’t need to create commercials, so it excludes large production costs.” This places local content producers in an excellent position. Peter Gird, executive producer, Cooked In Africa Films, cites the discrete involvement of Snowflake in “To ensure we remained relatable we included a wel known celebrity, Thembisa Mdoda, and secured airtime on South Africa’s largest TV station at 20:27 on SABC 1, between Generations and Uzalo .” Charley’s Cake Angels, and Suzuki in The Ultimate Braai Master. An interesting variation on original content development, but requiring significant investment in production, was The Gentleman’s Wager – The Race. Irvine explained that this was a local take on Johnnie Walker’s internationally acclaimed short film The Wager, starring Jude Law. The local version involved Gugu Zulu, Vusi Thembekwayo and Mika Häkkinen in a motor racing challenge. News is not a genre one would predict would offer scope for branded content, especially given that sponsorship of news P 18 The Media | wagthedog.co.za


THE MEDIA APRIL 2018
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