In truth, branded content has it’s roots back in the 1930s with radio campaigns that were sponsored by brands. The radio show talent actually voiced and endorsed the products themselves. Not long after that, the TV show “Camel News Caravan” took off and was all sponsored by Camel cigarettes.
Then, in the early 2000s, it was “The Hire” that was produced and distributed on the internet and DVDs. It featured a series of short films by Hollywood “A-List” directors, but featured a BMW car in the film, which was the true purpose of the production.
Soon after the launch of BMW films, the DVR came on to the scene and brought with it the ability to skip the ads. Plus, brands have been facing the ever increasing issue of having their ads now NOT seen ever since the onset (and adoption) of mobile media. Now over-the-top (OTT) content just continues to erode the ability of advertisers to get their messages in front of the target.
Branded content as it is considered in it’s truest form and presented by specialty firms is very different than extended ads that may have been produced in the spirit of branded content.
Branded content can be short form, but not as short as a typical commercial. It has a story, a theme, and characters that can be developed. It should feel as engaging as any film, TV show, or video production you have ever seen. Remember, if your content includes your logo in the first 30 seconds, it’s probably not branded entertainment — it’s an ad. If you have a celebrity talking about the brand, then it risks being seen as an ad.
There are some great examples of branded content:
- Farmed and Dangerous and The Scarecrow, Chipotle
- Two Bellmen, Marriott
- The Beauty Inside, Intel and Toshiba
- Mutual Rescue™: Eric & Peety – Short Film
Content marketing will continue to evolve for years to come and at an ever increasing rate as brands need to find solutions to deal with the loss of a relevant TV audience. In fact, these days, 88 percent of B2B marketers are using content to market their businesses, up from 86 percent in 2015. True branded entertainment won’t be the single savior of the offline (based) ad industry, but it could be the way advertisers connect with consumers on a deeper level than ever before.