Agencies and firms have ‘abused’ branded content, says Ensemble CEO

Justin RickettsToo many brands are failing to invest sufficient resources in quality content with many firms ‘abusing’ the practice and creating sub-standard “adverts”, the chief executive of branded content specialist Ensemble has claimed.

Justin Ricketts told Mumbrella that branded content has been turned into a “dirty word” by some brands who have low production values and approach content pieces as simply a way to push their brand.

Speaking ahead of Target’s one-hour branded fashion piece which aired on Seven last night – which was produced in collaboration with Ensemble – Ricketts said audiences will turn off if the quality is poor, just as they do with traditional advertising.

“Target invested a significant amount of money in this and were sophisticated in their approach and understood the need to produce quality content. It wasn’t all about the Target logo and there were very few Target references, the program was allowed to breathe,” he said. “It was produced to the same quality as any reality show.

“I think the problem with this category is that a lot of agencies and brands have abused it (branded content) and turned it into a dirty word.”

Brands too often make the mistake of using an agency who has produced a 15-second TV advert to work on longer format content that requires a different approach and skill set, he said.

“Longer format content needs to be crafted,” Ricketts said, adding that agencies and brands are too concerned about making the brand front and centre at the expense of quality.

With consumers recording TV shows more than ever and fast forwarding through ads, the only way to engage with an audience is to produce quality content, he said.

The program, which aired at 10pm after Dancing with the Stars, featured Target’s “style ambassador” Gok Wan transforming five women in a fashion makeover. It attracted an audience of 335,000 in the metro markets acocrding to OzTam.

Mumbrella revealed in July Target was creating the Style the Nation show with IPG Mediabrands agency Ensemble, featuring a “style camp” where the British designer gives the women a full style-makeover and offers tips on how to dress for their body shape and personality.

Wan first appeared as an ambassador for the brand in July 2013, and was the subject of homophobic complaints to the Ad Standards Board after he described women’s breasts as “bangers.

The five women were chosen after Target launched a national competition in June backed by TV ad and fully integrated campaign across Seven West Media in New Idea and Who magazines, digital and in The Morning Show and The Daily Edition.

The ‘Style the Nation’ campaign has followed Wan and the winners over the past four months.

Steve Jones

  • Ricketts will be appearing at next week’s BEfest conference to moderate a panel discussing how to make brand integration work on television. It features examples from Seven, Nine and Foxtel. View the program via this link.

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