The Rise of Branded Content

Branded Content

Moving your brand into the content creation space.


There is plenty of chatter and hype around branded content at the moment, in particular the production of high quality video content for the web. Brands see and hear about the potential of branded content from the likes of Dove's Sketches or Nike's The Chance, but they are unsure of how this could work for them.

This approach requires a certain channel neutrality that isn't always a comfortable place to be. However, as with anything new, it should make you stop and think and look at how things are done now, and how they might need to be done in the future. And when you consider that branded content takes you to a place where your audience is already thriving, any risks are very much of the calculated variety.

The fact is that, thanks to phenomenal growth in mobile and tablet usage, the Irish media landscape has changed rapidly in the last 12 to 18 months, and this will only continue to go one way.

Convergence of devices means that, for many people, their phone, computer and TV are now the one screen. There is plenty of research to support two screen behaviour in Ireland, but for me, the primary device is the one in your hand. 

What this means for brands in Ireland is that they need to look at how they can create engagement that best cuts their cloth by utilising this new, ever-broadening palette of media which is now available to them. In short, Irish brands will need to move from simply being advertisers, and start to also become content creators.

Irish consumers love video on their mobile and tablet devices, so much so that a recent Google study in Ireland found that 79% of Irish consumers are avid video watchers using their mobile, while there are over 76 million video views on YouTube alone by Irish people.

AMC's Breaking Bad

AMC's Breaking Bad

So what are they watching? Well, we know they love streaming shows like Breaking Bad on Netflix, but if you also use search and social analysis, you'll see what the real time trends are and what type of content Irish people want. This is where the opportunity is for your brand to provide something useful or entertaining in this space.

I recently attended a presentation by Geoff Seeley, Global Comms Planning Director for Unilever. His message was simple: online video is a big part of how they are building their business and it is a key vehicle that allows his team to provide content to a more targeted audience, making their money go further. They know where the consumer is going and they're investing in content for that space.

Coke have also set out a similar approach through Content 2020, in which they say they will double their sales by 2020 using content marketing as opposed to relying on a traditional media model. It’s a big statement and commitment, but one they are already working on to deliver.

The question for your brand is, what kind of branded content can you create which will deliver successful results? Unilever have a useful model for content planning which they are using to broaden their messaging beyond the traditional 30 second TV spot, and this may be a useful starting point for you to consider.


There are huge volumes of Irish searches and social conversations which may be relevant to your brand. You need to analyse these and identify which ones are relevant to your brand, and how you might help the consumers who are actively putting their hand up to find out about the products you provide. 

For example, people are actively searching for all types of things; from ‘how do I change the filter on my vacuum cleaner’ to ‘how do I remove dry skin’ to ‘how do I pan fry fish’. All simple questions, and opportunities for your brand to provide the answers through simple low cost, high quality video content.


TV is only one chapter of your brand story and online video provides the perfect platform to distribute more creative / entertaining new parts of that story, especially the parts which you couldn't have done in a traditional 30 second spot. 

Some brands have been riskier (such as Axe's 'Clean Your Balls') whereas brands such as Chipotle have looked to provide entertainment linked to a game which reinforces their brand story.


This area is about creating content which people would like to share, something that connects and resonates with them. There is an opportunity to move on from just creating content which delivers on your ROI, ie we told you what we wanted you know, but what about your consumer and would would they like to hear from you. What would they like to see from you, have you ever asked, have you ever checked as there are plenty of free tools which can help you understand this? 

In my 'Brand Greatness' workshop, we speak about how brand greatness cannot be bought, it is shared. 

This 2-hour workshop provides specific detail on how you create content to attract and retain audiences and it is worth speaking to our account team to organise a session where we can drive debate and ideas on how your brand can create content which people will want to lean forward to watch.

As highlighted above, I believe that this is an untapped opportunity for a lot of Irish brands. We're already working on using this type of approach for some of our clients, so if you're planning for 2014, now's the time to talk about the opportunities for your brand.

(Images courtesy of Nike 'The Chance' and AMC)