Opinion

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

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