Branded Content – TV’s Trojan Horse for Tapping Billions of Dollars

How Branded Content that connects the viewer and shopper can save the TV Industry. The multi-billion dollar opportunity.

The biggest issue facing the television industry is that they are trying to draw advertising dollars from Consumer Packaged Goods organizations that are increasingly relying on in-store promotions as their primary tiebreaker to move their products. The reason why is that the marketplace is constipated. Too many products with not enough demand and the primary lubricant to pull their supply chain and motivate a promiscuous consumer is price.

Advertising budgets and overhead are being siphoned to fund these trade initiatives that are estimated at $26 billion in the United States. They consume 13 percent of sales, 61 percent of CPG manufacturers’ marketing dollars, and they are growing faster than sales…a race to zero without an airbag. What’s more, they cost an additional $10 billion to administer. The rationale for this spend is that organizations are buying a preferred position in store that, combined with aggressive pricing, sells cases. While TV advertising strengthens brand equity, it has a less direct correlation to outcome.

The only answer is for Television to demonstrate that it is in the business of selling cases. To do so they must reposition themselves as the engine of the entire ecosystem in which the consumer works, shops, plays and lives in versus simply providing in home entertainment with some second screen functionality. The TV Networks have to show how their content can be repurposed to extend into retail – to turn viewers into shoppers and to drive traffic and basket.

When I ran my agency Capital C this was the model we went to time and time again. Instead of simply giving money to the Trade our clients paid us to create Big Ideas that combined viewer engagement and retail sales. Dove Sleep Over for Self Esteem extended beyond Television across the Corus Network, to Public Relations, Social Media and a big Retail Event where – when you purchased two Dove brands – consumers got a free pair of Dove PJ’s. So was Kraft Hockeyville with CBC, Becel Love Your Heart on the W Network, Pepsi Cola Bring Home the Stanley Cup on CBC, Sunsilk’s Bridezilla, Doritos Juno’s Fan Choice Awards with CTV, Nissan Innovation Challenge with City TV and Land of Cadbury – a 30 minute animated special that told the story of the Easter Bunny and launched a line of premium Easter Products in nine markets around the world.

There is no reason why TV Networks can’t do the same – create the link between content that engages viewers while also selling cases in store.

This is where Branded Content can become the Trojan Horse for the Television Industry. Why Branded Content? – It is simple – to do it right you need control of your storyline, versus simply purchasing a show, selling adjacency and then begging the Producer for rights to bring it to life across the entire ecosystem.

Control of the storyline is why Brands are diving into the Content Business and in many cases bypassing television to find channels easier to work with.

The results speak for themselves. The Lego Movie had a box office of $468 million, a double-digit increase in sales, and they were acknowledged as brand of the year. According to eMarketer there was over $118.4 billion spent on content marketing, video, and social media in 2013. 57% of marketers report custom content is their top marketing priority for 2014 (Source: Altimeter) and 79% of marketers report their organizations are shifting to branded content (Source: Forrester). Today, as you read this article, tens of millions of pieces of content will be shared and hundreds of millions more absorbed.

There is no question that a strategy that revolves around custom Branded Content is more complex to undertake as it involves story creation and a meeting of the minds and schedules between the network, the storyteller, the brands and the retailer. Who has influence and who has authority?

It might be complex and daunting to even schedule the meeting but the rewards are waiting for those who do. This strategy feeds the appetite of brands that are starving for attention and sales, the retailers that are starving for customers, and the networks that are starving for cash and affordable content while feeding the consumer’s insatiable appetite for something great to watch.

Yes great content to watch. Not jarring product placement, or awkward interruptions, or even advertising bumpers that mysteriously appear.

We need real stories – scripted dramas, comedy, and reality shows based on insights into the ‘head, heart and hands’ of the viewer/shopper – how they think, feel and behave. Stories where the brands are woven, not forced, into the story line that means the storyteller needs a real understanding of the brand; its ethos, providence and values, and how these get amplified at the point of sale. Ultimately, stories that can manifest themselves into engaging content as they flow from one consumer touch point to another.

The best example of this was Temple Street and Loblaw coming together to create Recipe to Riches. I have first hand experience knowing how it engaged the viewer on television and in social media and, in turn, they bought the Recipe to Riches products in record numbers.

Branded Content that works is a big bet but with an even bigger payoff. Come to the Banff World Media Festival in June, 2015. I am Co-Chairing a stream on Branded Content with Chris Malone, Managing Partner of Fidelum Partners. Working with the amazing Banff Team, our goal is to bring together the Networks, Marketers, Producers and Retailers to discuss, share and look at how each can feed one another’s business.

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