New Content For A New World
Having descended en masse to Silicon Valley last year, it was a logical next step for some of the world’s largest advertisers to visit another modern mecca in 2011: Hollywood.
After all, having seen how interactive and social media can diminish the power of traditional marketing, brands realized they needed something more seductive to take its place, if they wanted their consumer relationships to go beyond sales and customer service.
Celebrated for franchises that enchant and entertain, Tinseltown was an ideal source of inspiration, observed Chris Reitermann, president of ad agency Ogilvy & Mather Group Shanghai and OgilvyOne Greater China.
“This year everybody talks about content, story-telling and entertainment, and using digital channels to do so,” said Reitermann, speaking at digital marketing conference SES Hong Kong 2011.
“We literally had most of our major clients organize some trips out to Hollywood to meet with scriptwriters and film studios. Some brands started having deals or partnerships or even bought into movie studios. The whole area of entertainment and developing content is a very hot topic.”
For agencies constrained by the limitations of traditional media, the changes fostered by digital media are liberating, providing a bigger playground and bigger platform for content and brand stories.
Ad agencies are already adept at telling stories through TV commercials, the best of which people can seek out online as well as catch on TV.
To make the most of this new opportunity however, the industry needs to get better at understanding what possibilities the evolving online space offers, and how these can fuel better ideas, Reitermann suggested.
Agencies also need to come up to speed on how these ideas are then picked up and shared through digital networks, as well as how all these marketing messages, often seeded around standalone content, can be promoted via paid media - itself becoming more diverse as bandwidth and technology develops.
“Clients like to talk about earned media and owned media, because they think that’s free, but there’s a lot of innovation and new possibilities in the paid media space that are very relevant for us,” Reitermann said.
While filled with possibility, this connected, on-demand world also presents brands with two major challenges: coming up with enough content and presenting it in a way that delivers a rich brand experience on a sustained basis.
Entertainment for example plays a key role supporting Puma’s positioning as both a lifestyle and a sports brand, from sponsored events to video, though the company is finding it can’t generate the content it needs by itself.
“We can be the inspiration and be the seed, but we do need to work with partners and, more importantly, with consumers,” remarked Puma’s Asia-Pacific head of marketing Adrian Toy.
“Brands become curators,” added Toy, also speaking at SES on a separate panel. “I provide platforms for consumers to give me content, or work with partners to give me content, and then we ultimately curate what is good for the brand.”
The idea of crowdsourced content has spooked some agencies, as a challenge to one of their core sources of revenue. For advertisers however, it represents a way to maintain close ties with consumers at a time when media fragmentation is making it increasingly hard for their voice to be heard.
“I would expect the quality to be better if you pay someone to do content, but consumers want to see other consumers’ stuff - people with the same passions, who have the same insights,” Toy said.
“It’s always good to have a mix. We need to do some content but to be the catalyst for everyone else to join in and participate.”
From Hollywood to Bollywood
Tellingly, many advertisers followed last year’s visits to tech titans in San Francisco with a similar trip this year to Beijing, this time to sit down with Chinese internet giants such as Baidu and Tencent.
This exchange has already accelerated fresh approaches to digital marketing in China for some of Ogilvy’s biggest clients, Reitermann noted, proposing that global marketing chiefs might be planning another Asian excursion in 2012.
“This year they go to Hollywood, next year they will go to Bollywood,” he said. “If you want be first, you can go this year.”
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