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Marketing Briefing: ‘Proliferation of content’: Brands aim to be part of culture with a push into entertainment

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People don’t like it when their entertainment is interrupted by advertising. That supremely obvious insight is what’s driving marketers to invest in creating content studios — just this week, skincare brand SK-II announced its SK-II Studio — TV shows and docu-series: If people don’t want to be interrupted, then brands will create entertainment to reach them.

SK-II is just one of a number of brands increasing their investment in creating entertainment. Anheuser-Busch has a new talk show, Not a Sports Show, on Ficto.TV and Pepsi has a new dating show on ViacomCBS premiering next month. Corona has also created a studio, aptly named Corona Studios, for entertainment production, according to Felipe Ambra, vp of marketing at Corona. At the end of 2020, the beer brand debuted the “first IP” from the studio, a docu-series called Free Range Humans, per Ambra.

Brands are aiming to create entertaining video content to help them reach consumers who’ve become more difficult to reach in an increasingly ad-free world given the rise of streaming as well as ad-blockers being commonplace, according to agency execs.

When it comes to creating and funding entertaining content as an extension of a brand, marketers are eyeing TV or documentaries rather than magazines or some form of brand journalism as video consumption is on the rise, per the execs. Just this past week, Dollar Shave Club’s well-respected brand publication MEL laid off its editorial team as the brand cut ties with the magazine, which is now seeking a buyer. Dollar Shave Club did so to “better focus on our consumer business,” according to a spokesperson for the brand.

As brand dollars move to video creation rather than branded journalism, marketers are doing so out of a push to be part of culture, according to Dean Paradise, creative director at creative agency Gut.

“The more brands can be a part of culture and the ‘conversation,’ the more opportunity there is for organic growth,” said Paradise, of the strategy. “With the proliferation of content on entertainment platforms, TV and docs are more likely to be a part of culture. In addition, there are even more ways for brands to target niche audiences. In saying that, there is still a role for publications in marketing plans.”

Even so, execs caution brands that simply creating content is not enough to attract an audience. 

“There’s an overload of content — the chances of a marketer breaking through with content today is like buying the lottery ticket,” said brand consultant and co-founder of Metaforce Allen Adamson. “Just because they are building it doesn’t mean eyeballs will come.”

Trevor Guthrie, co-founder of creative shop Giant Spoon, believes that brands are taking too narrow an approach to content creation by focusing on a content form, i.e. a publication or a TV show, rather than a specific story to be told. “That’s not how an audience thinks and it’s not how [CMOs] should be thinking about telling [brand] stories,” said Guthrie. “As a CMO, you should become an editor-in-chief. You’re trying to tell a curated story for the audience that buys your product or the audience you want to engage with. No one should be limiting where that story sits.” — Senior news editor Seb Joseph contributed to this report.

3 Questions with Dataminr CMO Jen Jones

With a global pandemic, civil unrest and more, the last year has been unpredictable. What are some lessons learned from that unpredictability?

Expecting the unexpected and cross-training teams are two business lessons that I don’t think will have an expiration date. This era’s best marketing teams will be built around a culture of flexibility that allows them to quickly adapt and respond to a volatile market.

Over the last year, how has your team’s workflow changed?

With both the team’s safety and Dataminr’s business continuity being top of mind, I prioritized innovating our processes. That meant adjusting communication cadences and methods to be sensitive to our new remote reality, making project plans more visible and evaluating our tech stack to make sure we’re filling in any gaps in capabilities. In addition, we also prioritized cross-training. At a time where people are balancing having their work-life being in their homes, it’s important to make sure that we’re able to be flexible and pick up for each other when “life happens.” This helps to make disruptions in our workflow minimal.

Similar question: Over the last year, how has your approach to marketing changed?

The only thing in marketing that remains the same time after time is change. Preferences, needs, customer markets — they all change. In the past year, our approach has centered on adapting to those changes and considering how they’ve impacted our customers from a more “Business [to] Individual” perspective.

Dataminr’s AI platform is industry-agnostic, so our customers span across a wide variety of industries. While the enterprise risks they’ve faced since the onset COVID-19 have similarities, we’ve prioritized making our marketing content and events more targeted towards the unique challenges and opportunities that our customers face. — Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

TikTok has made waves across the advertising industry. Once known for its viral dance videos, the app has piqued marketers’ interest and some have moved to make the platform part of its core social media strategyPublishers too have started to develop branded content and explore new commercial opportunities on the video app. According to new research from Eventbrite that was provided to Digiday via email, small businesses are now looking to get in on the action for business marketing events. Here’s a look at the data:

  • Events: Through February 18, there has been a 67% increase in events centered around using TikTok for business marketing compared to 2020.
  • Attendees: Through February 18, there were 57x more attendees (a 5473% increase) to events highlighting TikTok for business marketing compared to 2020.
  • Paid Tickets: Through February 18, there were nearly 5x as many (a 268% increase) paid ticket purchases for events using TikTok for business marketing compared to 2020. — Kimeko McCoy

Quote of the week

“The irony is that now the industry’s attempt to jettison cookies may in fact trigger the political backlash we’ve all been waiting for for two decades.”

Jeff Chester, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Digital Democracy, on the possibility that privacy advocates may also convince lawmakers that email collection does not equal consent for identity tech, reports platforms, data and privacy reporter Kate Kaye.

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