SBD/November 6, 2015/Marketing Symposium

Marketers Discuss Best Practices For Developing Compelling Customer Content

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Drucker dishes on the balance of entertaining consumers while conveying a message
Marketers in today’s media landscape face a quandary when it comes to branded content. While brands are, for obvious reasons, focused on getting a message across about their product, that generally is not entertaining in and of itself, and therefore consumers will not respond to it. During the final panel of the ’15 Momentum Sports Marketing Symposium on Thursday, Yahoo Head of Marketing Partnerships & Branded Entertainment Rita Drucker said, “People are perceptive to receiving commercial messaging when they’re being entertained. Finding that blend, it’s not frequent enough, but finding that blend where you have a brand who is comfortable letting go a little bit for the sake of great content and letting the creators create, that’s when magic happens.” Gatorade Senior Dir of Consumer Engagement Kenny Mitchell and DirecTV Senior Dir of Advertising Josh Stern each cited examples of how their brands have set aside overt commercial messaging for the sake of compelling content. Discussing Gatorade’s video tribute to Derek Jeter ahead of his retirement last year, Mitchell said, “Literally you didn’t see any Gatorade branding until the final three frames.” Stern, comparing traditional TV ads to branded content aimed at going viral, said, “We use linear television to do the hard sell for us in getting customers to sign up for DirecTV. But then for branded content, it’s organic and natural without that overly commercial sell.”

LOOK INTO THE FUTURE: The deployment of branded content in real time on social media was a focal point of the panel, with Twitter Content Strategy & Planning Manager Nina Mishkin discussing the significance of planning ahead for opportune moments. “If you have that strong strategy of saying 'we’re able to plan for some predictable moments that we know are going to happen, we’ve scenario-planned ahead of time about the World Series, we know that X, Y and Z are going to happen,' that smart moment of distribution can be really key in watching something go off.” Mitchell said he was inspired to make scenario planning a key part of Gatorade’s content planning when he met NPR’s Sarah Koenig and learned about her work on the hit podcast, “Serial.” Mitchell: “What was really fascinating was learning their process, her and the executive producer’s, for literally mapping out ... ‘If we meet this person, and we can verify it based on that, then we’ll take this approach. If we meet this person, we’ll take this approach.’ We literally were inspired by that and have done a tremendous amount of scenario planning because of it around just about all of our content.” He added that while Twitter is about marketing the moment, Facebook is about target and scale reach. He cited using the latter platform to specifically target female soccer players with content featuring now-retired USWNT F Abby Wambach after the team’s World Cup victory.

Quick Hits:
• Stern, on the resonance of the Rob Lowe campaign: “You hope you become part of pop culture with some of these things. You can’t intend to do it, but you hope that you end up there. When you talk about Rob Lowe, that was intended as a traditional TV campaign to drive to 1-800-DirecTV, but it became such a big part of pop culture, whether it be Halloween costumes, memes. ... That wasn’t paid media, that wasn’t branded content we developed, it was just the audience resonated that message and that formula of bringing the communication to them.”

• Fox Sports VP/Sports Marketing Sarah Hollis, on virtual reality: “How do we bridge that gap until glasses and goggles and all kinds of things are commonplace? Fox on that side through our Fox Labs is really trying to bridge that gap. We do a lot of testing within NASCAR. How do we bring different gopher cam angles or how do we put virtual cars or drones, or within baseball, how are we looking at advanced statistics? How can we leverage the viewing that consumers are seeing on their TV until they’re really into the virtual reality world?”
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