Branded en­ter­tain­ment

Spe­cial­ist agency fo­cuses on funded pro­gram­ming

Finweek English Edition - - Advertising & marketing -

ZOOM AD­VER­TIS­ING, the Ogilvy group’s re­tail and “brands at re­tail” agency, has launched a branded en­ter­tain­ment unit – claimed to be a first for any South African agency.

Branded en­ter­tain­ment is paid-for air­time, which the broad­caster uses as pro­gram­ming con­tent: a TV or ra­dio pro­gramme ex­clu­sively spon­sored by one or more ad­ver­tis­ers. For the mar­keter, says Zoom MD Steve Massey, it’s “hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with your cus­tomer as op­posed to shout­ing”.

It’s been widely hailed in the US as the “next big thing” in mar­ket­ing, though the ba­sic idea doesn’t seem new to peo­ple who re­mem­ber spon­sored ra­dio shows on Spring­bok Ra­dio.

Pro­grammes can be a nor­mal halfhour slot or as short as three min­utes. Zoom’s unit has al­ready suc­cess­fully pro­duced a num­ber of “ad­ver­tiser funded pro­grammes” for its clients on television. Th­ese in­clude the “On Site” pro­gramme for Cash­build, “The Feel­good Chal­lenge” for Pep, “Star for a Day” for Pep (which achieved 19 Au­di­ence Rat­ings for its best episode and an av­er­age of 13 across the se­ries).

An­other suc­cess­ful pro­duc­tion – “Project Home”, also for Cash­build – at­tracted an as­ton­ish­ing 2,5m di­rect vis­its to the Cash­build web­site. The first edi­tion of Pep’s “Wanna Win Big” show, which has just started, has al­ready cre­ated mas­sive ex­cite­ment. The flyer cam­paign alone at­tracted more than 300 000 ap­pli­ca­tions from peo­ple who want to be on the show and win big.

Massey an­nounced the agency’s new di­vi­sion as many more branded en­ter­tain­ment deals are signed for both ex­ist­ing and new clients. “Branded en­ter­tain­ment is like touch pa­per. It’s spark­ing new think­ing in the in­dus­try – it’s ig­nit­ing a new com­mu­ni­ca­tions plat­form. Once mar­keters are ex­posed to the con­cept their en­thu­si­asm is pal­pa­ble.”

The rea­son for the ex­cite­ment is be­cause “branded en­ter­tain­ment” is less in­tru­sive than tra­di­tional ad­ver­tis­ing and more pow­er­ful than mere spon­sor­ship. When han­dled pro­fes­sion­ally, cre­atively and with­out be­ing per­cep­ti­bly con­trived, branded en­ter­tain­ment is far more cred­i­ble and con­vinc­ing.

Spon­sor­ship al­lows the ad­ver­tiser to use bill­boards, stings and min­i­mal prod­uct place­ment, if any. Branded en­ter­tain­ment and ad­ver­tiser-funded pro­grammes al­low a show to be crafted to suit and in­te­grate the brand in a rel­e­vant way.

Zoom’s new unit works closely with the broad­caster to en­sure that the con­tent in­tegrity is main­tained while giv­ing the brand cred­i­ble and ap­peal­ing ex­po­sure.

“Branded en­ter­tain­ment pro­motes brand aware­ness. It can con­vey any num­ber of com­plex mes­sages and can build sales pro­mo­tions around a sin­gle pro­gramme se­ries – and it’s cost-ef­fec­tive,” says Heather Swart, head of Zoom Branded En­ter­tain­ment. “We be­lieve branded en­ter­tain­ment is go­ing to be an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant and large part of our busi­ness and a good rea­son for of­fi­cially declar­ing our ded­i­cated busi­ness unit.”

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