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THE MEDIA APRIL 2018

BRANDED CONTENT and current affairs on television is prohibited. Jonathan Cooke, trade brand manager at eMedia Sales, explained that the CNN approach to branded content (think Rolex and yachting) had inspired the exploration of how it could work in a local context. He was adamant there was absolutely no compromise on editorial integrity, and gave assurance that editorial credibility is tantamount. It was a matter of finding opportunities for amplifying or complementing news stories, in a way that added value to the viewer, in a credible way. The annual Meetings Africa, South Africa’s business tourism lekgotla, was an event which would receive news coverage, but which warranted deeper exploration. Partnering with SA Tourism made that possible. UNDERSTAN D THE AU DIENCE Cooke also made the point that having a repertoire of online touchpoints is crucial to being able to build commercial value for clients. Restrictions around news and the hard line that the sales team be innovative in building commercial value for its advertisers. Online live streaming, the creation of pop-up channels, and the provision and curation of material for social media are useful tools. The starting point for successful branded content is to “understand the audience”, as Rodrigues succinctly put it. In a similar vein, Clare Trafankowska, digital account director at MEC Global, agreed that “branded content should be created with the consumer at it’s heart and this requires in-depth understanding into consumer behaviour”. Brady issued a caveat here: Consumers do not necessarily inherently care about what a brand has to say to them. They are certainly not going to be beguiled by branded content that is too closely shaped by traditional advertising perceptions. “It is necessary for marketers to prove to consumers… that what we truly do have is something of value to communicate,” said Trafankowska. Given “the blending of our diverse population, and colourful political and economic culture”, she postulated that “South Africans are incredibly advanced, analytical and untrusting consumers”. One area that the BCMA experts agreed on was that it was crucial that branded content should be engaging. If consumers have choice about whether or not to watch branded content, then clearly brands need to deliver what people are going to want to watch, read or engage with. ‘Engagement’ sounds simple, but can be daunting to define. Trafankowska suggests that it can be found across various types of material: While entertaining springs first to mind, it is also worth considering informative and educational factors. Branded content must provide consumers with some sort of value. Transparency and authenticity are also key. The warning that “one cannot try to fool consumers” was reiterated by advertisers, producers and broadcasters alike. Neither should one try to shoe-horn a brand into an existing advertiser-funded programme The Media | wagthedog.co.za P 19


THE MEDIA APRIL 2018
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