The word “commercial” by itself is enough to make anyone cringe — even the people in advertising that make the commercials. Since the 1940s, brands have blindly jumped at the opportunity to get their product shown to as many people as possible without meaningful goals or purpose. While this may have worked in the past — the truth is, consumers are growing extremely frustrated and annoyed by commercials.
We love television and radio but hate the constant 2 min breaks that take us out of the story we were just feeling a part of. And we also love using mobile apps, but we hate the annoying ads that confuse us to the point of anger. With the growth of this consumer anger, a shift in advertising has already begun that’s extremely beneficial for both consumers and brands. It’s called “branded content.”
The idea of branded content is that you should not make something for your brand that people are FORCED to watch in between the thing they really want. Instead, tell a story of the product in a way that people would go out of their way to watch. This doesn’t mean “tricking” consumers into buying something, it means relating with a target audience by telling stories they’ll find interesting/entertaining on a more personal level.
Instead of rambling product specifications, tell of the person, culture or community using the product.
The key to branded content is “story”. Instead of rambling product specifications, tell of the person, culture or communtiy using the product. What do THEY aspire to do or be? What interests THEM? What do THEY care about?
Creating branded content only works if you truly understand your target consumer. GIVE them something instead of asking for something. The annoyance of consumers comes from the constant “asking” every day by hundreds of other brands. There’s a battle for attention out there and after a long war, it’s becoming a losing battle for most brands. So, if you create something that gives — you’re much more likely to make a real connection with a target consumer.
Let’s take a look at a few examples:
In 2001 – 2002 BMW released a series of 8 short films at about 10min each called “The Hire”. Each movie made by a different Hollywood director and featuring Clive Owen as the leading actor. In the first movie titled “Ambush”, we’re given a great chase sequence (featuring BMW’s of course) with gunfire, explosions and witty dialogue. But — not at any point though does BMW ask people to buy their cars.
The year these films came out, BMW’s sales increased 12% from the previous year and they were watched over 11 million times.
Red Bull Media House
Red bull constantly sponsors/creates content for extreme sports. In 2007 they started Red Bull Media House to create all kinds of content for their target audience. Young & aspiring extreme athletes.
There’s not much information about the impact of this on Red Bull products, but they not only create branded content, but they also help support a culture — and that is priceless for a brand relationship with its audience.
The Lego Movie
in 2014, Lego made “The Lego Movie”. Completely made up of legos and a story from a young boy’s imagination. A fascinating story about legos that again… never asks for anything.
After the release of The Lego Movie, Lego sales increased by 15%.
As the advertising industry changes, so does the concept of what advertising is exactly. It’s time to inject more thought and story than ever before while thinking about the consumer first. For possibly the first time ever, there’s a win-win situation available in advertising for both consumers and brands. Every brand has a story to tell but you must look to your customers for the guidelines first.