media update’s Aisling McCarthy attended the event at Vega School in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 24 July.

The BCMA aims to promote best practice, share knowledge and assist in growing the branded content industry in South Africa. Before we delve into the details from the event, let’s begin by explaining the basics of branded content.

What is branded content?

Branded content is the practice of marketing via the creation of content that is funded or outright produced by an advertiser. This is in contrast to content marketing, in which content is presented first, and foremost, as a marketing ploy for a brand.

Branded content is designed to build awareness for a brand by associating it with content that shares its values. The content does not necessarily need to be a promotion for the brand, although it may still include product placement.

The global CEO of the BCMA, Andrew Canter, shared his insights into some of the top global trends in branded content:

  • Audio is under-utilised: Everyone is focused on visuals, which means there is an opportunity for brands to spend more time working on audio.
  • Gamification: Brands need to make fun and interactive content.
  • Technology and artificial intelligence: Machine learning is helping some brands make great content by processing mass amounts of data and focussing on consumer interests.
  • Direct to consumer: Brands are working to cut out the retailers and deliver their product straight to their consumers.
  • Co-collaboration: Brands are starting to work with consumers to create content.
“Content is always evolving and we must understand its importance [to succeed],” said Canter.

What makes branded content successful?

Spero Patricios, MD at brand experience agency Launch Factory, said that we are living in the “golden age of content”. This means that content is abundant, and brands can capitalise on this by correctly producing content that is branded.

Patricios said that the difference between advertising and branded content is that “content is not an interruption”. He said that people want to be entertained, not interrupted, and that marketing needs to address that.

“People want to be entertained, not interrupted.”

“People have an innate desire to create, so we should stop pushing content down people’s throats and start building stages for them to create their own content,” said LEGO’s Lars Silberbaurb in a video that Patricios played.

‘Hackvertising’ takes branded content a step further

Wayne Bishop, MD of PHD, gave a presentation on ‘hackvertising’, based on a presentation given at Cannes by the David Agency.

The concept of ‘hackvertising’ is to find a social cause or sentiment and either insert or align your brand with it in order to facilitate a conversation with consumers.

Fast food restaurant Burger King successfully ‘hackvertised’ during the discussions about the net neutrality bill.

Here’s how they did it:

They also managed to take a stab at their main competitor at the launch of Stephen King’s IT movie:

Bishop explained the five steps of ‘hackvertising’:

1. Define a system to hack
2. Study the rules so you know how to break them
3. Find a relevant way to insert your brand
4. Call your lawyers (because you’re likely to be sued if your content is clever enough)
5. Deploy the attack and disrupt

Further, Bishop said that studies have shown that 87.6% of social media themes in South Africa are dedicated to politics, so South African brands shouldn’t necessarily shy away from that topic. And with the average South African spending two hours and 48 minutes on social media every day, ‘hackertising’ can be a powerful way to get your brand message across.

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Want to know more about what makes branded content such a powerful medium? Read more in our article, Branded content is the new frontier: A Q&A with Jason Xenopolous.