• D&AD Awards 2018
    Deadline 14 February
  • Open for Entries
  • Deadline 14 February
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Branded Content That Builds Communities & Wins Awards

Partner and Chief Content Officer at co:collective, Tiffany Rolfe has lead and created business-changing work for clients such as Virgin Atlantic, Ikea, Burger King and Microsoft.

Named as one of AdAge’s “Women to Watch”, she has judged and received awards at every major creative competition in the industry. Prior to her time as Branded Film & Content Jury President, we asked her to share her top tips and tricks for making branded content that builds communities and wins awards.
1195161 - Tiffany Rolfe

Branded content has never been more relevant. As traditional advertising continues to be disrupted by ad blockers, streaming services, new platforms and so on, clients are experimenting with new ways to break through all the clutter and meaningfully connect with and entertain customers. Branded content seems to be a great answer as clients experiment with new formats and new platforms—not to mention new creative partners. Expect to see award winning work from a mix of agencies, studios, media companies, creators and even in house teams.

Here are a few approaches that have been resulting in great branded content and entertainment:
More purposeful collaborations.

Native content partnerships on media platforms are getting better and better. A smart example of this is Cocainenomics, which was a partnership between The Wall Street Journal and Netflix for the series, Narcos. It brought a deeper background and real reportage as a way to intrigue the right community of viewers. We’ll also see more purposeful partnerships with native creators and influencers that align with a brand’s purpose. Co-creation can lead to authentic content and tap into an already existing and relevant community for brands.


Emotional experimentation with new formats.

Brands bring new valuable experiences to people by experimenting with new formats VR, 360, LIVE, and more. The stand out examples will be what “Clouds over Sidra” did with VR—bringing an emotional depth and subtlety to the format, demonstrating the true power it can help deliver. A recent example is Google’s 360 Pearl film. An emotional little piece of content that on it’s own would have been great, but then used the 360 format as a way to allow you to rediscover the story each time you watched it. It sparked interest from the 360, but hooked people for the story.  

360 Google Spotlight Story: Pearl

Truly addictive serial content & entertainment

As brands begin acting more like publishers or studios than advertisers, they are experimenting with serial content. Having a compelling series, a podcast, or just great content made regularly gives a reason to come back and can build community behaviors. Nike’s Margos Vs. Lilly collaborated with Hollywood Insiders to create an athletic story of two unexpected sisters. It’s totally on brand and is a true piece of entertainment.

Red Bull, the ultimate brand publisher, released the “Survival Billboard,” a film/experiment that continues to prove that they are a brand for those that live their lives to the extreme. Like all great publishers having a consistent cadence, and recurring formats, but still surprising people with new stories and angels, can get people continually watching, caring and sharing.

MICROSOFT XBOX - TOMB RAIDER "The Survival Billboard"

Survival Billboard / Wood Pencil / Branded Content & Entertainment / Branded Content & Entertainment - Live Experience / 2016

Community as a creative partner

New and better ways to spark user generated content and true community collaboration are  great ways to engage people and get them advocating for brands. “Straight outta” UGC social content was a powerful example of giving an idea over to the world and letting them own it and shape it. I think we’ll also see LIVE as a format as a great way to engage the community in real time to shape stories. There are new expectations and a new relationship to content that people have today, and they want a role in creating it. This is an opportunity that brands should continue to embrace.  

Straight Outta / Wood Pencil / Digital Marketing / Use of Social Media / 2016

It’s an exciting time for new ways to push the idea of what branded content and film mean for brands and for people. We as creative leaders have the challenge to help brands consistently create content that people care about AND builds their business. And consistently great brand work will always be the ideas that have a clear purpose at their centre.

It’s the jumping off point for more meaningful work that truly connects with communities of people.  And this will be the work that will be awarded and inspiring for our whole industry.

If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.

For more creative inspiration and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best design and advertising, join us at D&AD Festival.

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