Could branded entertainment be the holy grail for creatives?

It doesn’t matter where you get the money, be it from brands or funding bodies. As long as creative people get to create, that’s all that matters says Cathie McGinn.

The idea of wealthy patrons supporting the arts is one that might set the teeth of most creative people on edge. The patrons of the Renaissance helped create incredible work, but funding was never given unconditionally, and as creatives, we hope to be able to make decisions free of paternalistic whim.

But the reality is that creativity has to be funded somehow.

The practice of creating ads is immensely constrained, from cramming a story into a minute, to including enough pack shots.The business of making successful films often depends on telling a story broad enough to appeal to millions.

But there are other ways of funding creative work that allow creatives to maintain the integrity of the idea and reach and audience. Might not branded entertainment be the holy grail for creatives?

There’s a reluctance among the film-making community to consider alternative routes to getting projects up and it’s misplaced. Waiting for the largesse of a funding body seems no less of a exercise in humility than considering what values your project embodies then finding a brand that shares them.

And for the adland, it offres the possibility of creating content that reaches and audience in a way that’s relevant and engaging. Branded entertainment is the overlap between storytelling and marketing and, if approached with the right objectives, can bring together the best of both worlds.

Brands are becoming media channels in their own right – consider the number of people visiting supermarkets each week compared to the biggest rating show on a network. Imagine the juxtaposition of that audience, a decent budget and the story you want to tell.

As the internet joke goes, even Shakespeare got to get paid.

Cathie McGinn is was the curator of the Festival of Branded Entertainment.


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