Advertising is dead. Get ready for the entertainment hurricane

Greg-Logan HatchIn this guest post, Greg Logan argues that people are sick of ads, and Australian brands will be left reeling once the NBN arrives if they don’t buck up.

I was in New York, spending time with the best people in branded entertainment, when Hurricane Sandy hit. As I packed up my notes to bunker down, I couldn’t help thinking that if brands don’t prepare for what’s about to come, they’ll be hit hard. 

Even though the US is quite a few years ahead of Australia in the branded space, it’s still a new area, but clearly here to stay. Unlike Sandy, it’s a storm that’s not going to pass.

Kevin McAuliffe of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment has said: “For a number of years in branded entertainment we have been saying there’s been a train coming down the track. Well it’s arrived.”

I saw numerous case studies of successes and the world’s biggest brands- P&G, IKEA and VISA- are all happily playing in this space. Perhaps the biggest convert has been Coca Cola who have declared “we have moved from creative excellence to content excellence.” Ogilvy Entertainment, whom got in early in 2006, has seen 20% year on year growth. It’s not hard to see why.

People spend more time on smartphones, tablets and computers. TV piracy continues to grow. TV channels, quickly losing audience share, are still charging huge premiums for brands to place ads that viewers aren’t watching. The model doesn’t work anymore.

“The world has moved from one message broadcast a million times to a million messages broadcast once or a few times, but they’re in context.” says Brian Terkelsen, CEO of MediaVest USA.

People haven’t turned off brands. It’s not them they have a problem with (the average twitter user follows 5 to 6 brands). They are sick of ads interrupting their entertainment. And today they have too many choices where they can see what they want without interruptions.

So be the entertainment.

But start now. In the States, most brands sat at the side and waited for other brands to test branded content. They are nowhere near as strong as those who dived in.

As long as your entertainment is actually entertaining, viewers will let you get away with more than you think. I heard one story that made me cringe. In one TV show, backed by Oreo (who do the most amazing Facebook engagement), a young man proposed by opening up an Oreo and there was the ring. Amazingly they only had one negative comment the next day.

But branded entertainment doesn’t have to be a 30 minute TV show. Think second screen. Pepsi are heavily involved with the ‘The Voice’ USA, but are not in the program at all, they sponsor all the social media.

Yahoo is becoming a powerful channel where they contextualize the brands entertainment, placing informative shows around news, or fashion shows around lifestyle, or action programs around sport.

Up until now, the general rule has been that online content would never go beyond 2 minutes content because of download. That will all change with NBN, length won’t be an issue and viewers will demand longer entertainment.

In New York I saw branded entertainment as TV shows, as films, music festivals, games, books, food truck tours, even as a sales tool, activating entertainment through the sales team. And after Hurricane Sandy hit I saw brands sponsor mobile power charging stations, so people could charge their mobiles and ipads to download the entertainment they had missed.

The storm had hit, now it was back to the important stuff.

Greg Logan is co-founder and managing director, Hatch Entertainment


  1. nell schofield
    14 Nov 12
    3:46 pm


    content producer conducts objective evaluation and concludes that content is the future, surprisingly enough

    marketers glom onto shiny new thing, until the next one comes along

  3. Circling sharks
    14 Nov 12
    4:48 pm

  4. Well let’s see, a guy who flogs branded content predicting the death of tv advertising and the rise of branded content. Jeez, what are the odds of that happening? I’ve honestly lost count of the number of times tv has been proclaimed ‘dead’. And I’m not even a traditional ad guy. And there’s nothing here to suggest that this particular proclamation will be any more accurate than all the ones that went before it. Of course, Greg wold probably agree to disagree with me. But then he’d have to because he’s selling branded content, right Greg?

  5. Hugh
    14 Nov 12
    5:04 pm

  6. haha…disagree with your general rule – the 2 minutes isn’t because of download, it’s because consumers get bored. the content is boring as hell. Just look at KONY – love it or hate it, a TON of people watched a 30min advertorial…

    agree with the article though – Aus brands need to get into branded content & start to generate their own ‘channels’ (formally or informally) to engage w consumers – through web, social and face-to-face.

  7. Just Sayin'
    14 Nov 12
    11:05 pm

  8. @ Circling Sharks

    Ten drops to 30 cents a share, profits down and predicting redundancies

    Nine network saved at the 11th hour from involuntary administration with a reported 3.3 billion debt

    Seven west, owner of the Seven Network, predicts profit plunge


  9. tvguide
    15 Nov 12
    8:52 am

  10. As we work with traditional, predominantly tv advertisers we wont be left reeling, we will just jump on board. see you there.

  11. radvert
    15 Nov 12
    8:53 am

  12. @Just sayin’ Still pulling in $3b in advertising and the most mass of mass media in Australia.


  13. Rushdie
    15 Nov 12
    10:49 am

  14. so what have you got Greg?

  15. Mina
    15 Nov 12
    11:00 am

  16. I certainly don’t agree with TV advertising being ‘dead’. I would compare it more to it being in it’s later stages of life. New innovative ways to communicate with target audiences are needed to communicate with customers via the technologies that people are readily adopting today.

  17. Shamma
    15 Nov 12
    11:18 am

  18. The assertion that Branded Content is going to become more important is true … but like everything it requires doing and not just talking.

    This article is just talking. Create things people value. TV is good at this, always has been. If I was going to bet on who will nail this model, it’s probably the professionals who have been doing this for decades and understand what people like to watch.

  19. Shamma
    15 Nov 12
    11:27 am

  20. Another thing … the idea brands ‘be the entertainment’ is a naive one … especially straight after saying people are sick of brands interrupting content with their ads. In most instances, branded content is a long ad, with cheap production, with minimal distribution.

    Maybe the branded content/entertainment debate should be more about brands becoming the patrons of entertainment … investing in and facilitating creative expression in a way not entirely different to record companies, studios, even the government etc … and brands looking to creatively work their own needs into this. Very rarely is branded content currently being looked at like this – it’s more about informercial type content or low cost/poor integration.

    Brands becoming patrons of entertainment and culture in a branded content sense is not entirely different from brands funding entertainment that mattered to people in the past – by sponsorship and TVCs, print ads etc. But somehow we’ve been told that model is dead and it’s about audience not context.

  21. Richard Moss
    15 Nov 12
    11:43 am

  22. I read this on my Binko touch screen HD and found it so arresting I had to sit back in my gas suspended ergonomic Schenk seat (leather) and run my hands through my hair ( I can do this now because of the security of Lombard hair extensions and the fabulous new gel “Gizzo” which allows non oily smooth hair at all times of the day 24/7) for a few minutes. I took a sip of my refreshing and delicious Panomax, the cool and 100% natural, anti ageing fruit drink with 16 exotic anti oxidant berry fruits, and then began my reply.

    TV advertising will be with us as long as there is TV, that’s a no brainer.
    Content and branded will annoy the pants off most people (not those who wear Troughton’s wash and wear trousers with the hand sewn fly, because they are so comfortable, nothing can get the wearer to discard them, not even at bed times) and will have to be become gradually so subtle as to cause the old pack shot wars to erupt all over again. Can’t see branding and content catching on really.

    Advertising is an art, a science and a profession that will be around until the last swan leaves for Montsalvat.

    Sorry, can’t add more, it’s time for my cup of Dukenfield’s leaf crest tea, the refreshing, low caffeine/hi antioxidant beverage with added omega 3 and natural sterols.

  23. Brent W
    15 Nov 12
    12:50 pm

  24. Thing is, just because a brand produces something entertaining (like Skittle’s ads) doesn’t automatically create an increase in sales. Marketers need to answer a key question, “Will this make more money for us in the short term / long term.” And it can’t just rely upon an ambiguous, ‘Oh it helps build branding.’

  25. Kate Richardson
    16 Nov 12
    10:34 am

  26. @Richard Moss you made me smile

  27. Wild Oscar
    16 Nov 12
    10:44 am

  28. If I donated $1 to the charity every time someone had declared advertising to be over and out over the past few years, Australia would have no poverty remaining.
    Alas, advertising is here to stay. It’s just in different forms etc. Branded entertainment is nothing new. It’s been a fundamental of advertising since the wireless was invented.

  29. George
    20 Nov 12
    11:29 am

  30. Branded content is nothing new. An advertisers incredible ability to target consumers via devices, channels and new business models have disrupted the publishers,the agencies, the content Producers. This is a technology driven change much like CDs killed the records business and the Internet is killing the yellow pages. Move or be run over.

  31. Anthony
    21 Nov 12
    4:30 pm

  32. Saying TV advertising is dead is pretty naive way to think about the future of advertising. It’s already been said that as long as there is TV, there will be TV advertising and branded content is nothing new.

    I think this article makes a strong point that the primary focus from traditional TVC’s to branded content is making a drastic change, as the evolution of marketing should encourage.

    Brands like Absolut Vodka and Converse All Star are comfortably sitting on this train, with campaigns like Absolut Greyhound and 3 Artists, 1 Song respectively. Brands will always have to evolve in how they connect with their audience and the days of just flashing your product for 30 seconds while int interrupting the latest episode of Breaking Bad is not proving to be as successful as it once was.

    Social media has also generated a common misconception that because “people are liking our brand on Facebook, it is doing well.” At the end of the day, this branded content still needs to move product and not just be a source of entertainment.

    I’ve watched the Cadbury Gorilla jamming out to Phil Collins clip probably 100 times now, because it is short, snappy and brilliantly entertaining but my consumer habit hasn’t changed at all. So saying that one form of marketing and advertising is dead and this “new” form is the way forward is like a horse running with blinders. In my opinion, there is no one way to go, but it is connecting the dots between all media that is going to reign supreme.