Branded content has become a trend — kind of like avocado — a buzzword every marketer loves to throw during their monthly review presentation to sound just a tad more professional, but — kind of like avocado — there’s really nothing new about it.
What’s branded content?
Brand content is to create content of value to gather people’s attention. The theory being that because it’s entertaining then audiences will forgive the fact that they’re being sold a product. In the case of He-Man and the pastel-colored shrunken horses, that would be toys.
“The idea central to content marketing is that brands must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story. The value returned is often that people associate good things with – and return to engage with – the brand.”
What are companies doing now?
Like everything else marketing, branded content has gone online in recent years, with a recent trend towards short, snappy videos. Right now, advertisers are laser focused on online platforms. With the endless ocean that is the Internet, attention spans are limited. Viewers only pay attention to ads that really grab their attention, so brands have to be good at predicting what we want to see. And not only that, but users can also search for the content that truly interests them, forcing the marketers to adapt and make their content engaging.
The perfect example of how to run an effective branded content campaign. Nearly all of their marketing relies heavily on it — or did you happen to miss the Red Bull Stratos contest? What about their Air Race Championship? Or, really, any of their extreme sports world competitions? That’s all branded content!
The LEGO Movie
One of the best examples of entertainment produced by a brand that almost everyone loves. It amplified the emotional connection that the audience had with the brand by bringing to the life that magical world we all shared when we played with LEGOs. I reckon everyone could relate to at least one of the characters; my favourite was Benny!
Land Rover’s ‘biggest ever sponsorship’ for the Rugby World Cup is a fantastic example of branded content. They used the hashtag #WeDealInReal to feature the stories of 11 amateur rugby clubs from around the world. The stories were featured in both TV ads and across all of the brand’s social media channels. They also encouraged other amateur clubs to share their own stories using the hashtag!
These are all examples of how we want to have a closer relation with brands and see them as people and not just businesses. Using content generated by people from all over the world is one of the best ways to humanise a brand and that is where marketing is heading in the future.