04 February 2019

A 'Brand' New World

A 'Brand' New World by Olivier Robert-Murphy

As a former President of the Entertainment Lion for Music jury at Cannes Lions, and in my day-to-day job, I have the opportunity to see and analyse numerous creative campaigns. My conclusion is clear, the transformation in brand marketing over the last two years, whatever the industry, is bigger than what I have seen in the last 20. We are in a “brand” new world.

People sometimes find it difficult to define what branded content is. Often hiding in broad daylight, funded by a brand with a view to promote a product or service, branded content will not engage the consumer if the content is not authentic and meaningful. An example with full creative input – Zedd, the artist – created unique content and new music to promote National Geographic’s TV series about Planet Earth, ‘One Strange Rock’ driving a social media frenzy and global pickup.

Before the creation of any marketing campaign around content, brands need to start by questioning themselves with: Why? In his book titled ‘Start with Why’, Simon Sinek explains why brands need to focus less on what they’re selling (computers), and how they’re selling it (through retail), but more on why they are selling it. Apple, as an example, do not sell mobiles and tablets, they are selling a way of thinking differently through great design. It just happens that they are selling mobile phones and tablets. In the same way that Red Bull ‘Gives You Wings’ and Coca-Cola means “choose happiness”, Universal Music provides you with emotional experiences. By communicating these values through branded content, consumers are more likely to engage personally with the brand itself.

It has never been harder for brands to catch our attention. Consumers are much more informed and volatile than in the past. Did you know that 74% people would not care if their favourite brand disappeared tomorrow? (Source: Havas Media).

There is no more loyalty, there is no more love.

So, what’s the solution?

1.Creating personalised and meaningful relationships with your consumers

2.Constantly drive new customers to your brand

Branded content is the perfect approach for these two strategies.

How do we do this? By engaging with people where they are spending up to 8 hours a day consuming media (Source: IPA 2017) and through content they care about. Here we can generate deep engagement through authentic videos and strong storytelling.

It’s not just me saying this. 78% of CMOs think that content is the future of marketing. (source: Hanley Wood Business Media). I recall a recent campaign from Lynx, featuring New Zealand actor/influencer Julian Dennison. In this hardcore TV sales ad, the character ‘Humphrey’ played by Julian is trying to figure out how to seduce Rachel Peckham. You HAVE to watch it to the end to know if he is successful, whilst laughing all the way. The video was organically shared by millions of people, through smart storytelling and an original take on the hard sell approach.

An example of branded content leveraging a relationship, is a piece produced as part of Make up For Ever’s partnership with Jessie J, to promote their brand. A rare moment was captured on camera of Jessie J and Make-up vlogger Nikkie testing MUFE’s new makeup range for 20 minutes. The duo was obviously having an incredible time bonding over a mutual love of make-up. Branded content is not necessarily about money. This video probably cost only a few $100 to produce, but it was viewed by more than 12 million people to date.

Finally, recording artist Lukas Graham gave some of his fans a very meaningful and emotional experience. His most engaged fans – based on their time spent listening to his songs every day -  were invited to take part in a documentary. Data and insight were certainly useful in finding the best candidates, but the magic came from their reaction when he surprised them in person, singing along to his tracks with them and handing over VIP tickets to his next show. All of this was beautifully orchestrated by the marketing team at YouSee in conjunction with Universal Music Denmark.

One thing is for sure, each example I gave you is truly authentic and reflects the real values of the brands. Before creating any branded content, brands need to ensure that campaigns are aligned with their purpose.

To pro-actively engage with their consumers, campaigns featuring artists and music have been shown as the best route to organic interaction.  

Olivier Robert-Murphy, Global Head of New Business for Universal Music Group. Joining the entertainment industry at PolyGram Video, he ultimately advanced to VP of Marketing at Universal Pictures International Video in London. Olivier then joined Universal Music Group, where after launching the audio-visual department and whilst doing an MBA at the London Business School, he was given the added responsibility of managing the Strategic Marketing Division. Since 2010, Olivier leads Universal Music Group and Brands (UMGB) - an award-winning team of global music, content and partnership experts, recognised as THE creative company for music and brands. Together they provide innovative campaigns and focused insight to help global brands truly connect with their audiences.

This piece originally appeared in the BCMA book, Fifteen Years, A Branded Content Story.

Don’t miss the BCMA's session on 7 March at 14:55 - 15:15 on the  Brand Engagement & Content Stage