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Inspired by Branded Content

In partnership with YouTube

Inspired by Branded Content

What Makes Great Branded Entertainment and Content?

Kerstin Emhoff is Co-Founder and Executive producer of production company Prettybird, established in 2007, it now has offices in the USA and UK. Kerstin is also a former Jury foreman of the D&AD Branded Film Content and Entertainment Category, in partnership with YouTube.

In this article, Kerstin uses inspiring branded content examples to investigate what makes it different from traditional advertising, and what sets brilliant branded content apart from the rest.

Kerstin Emhoff

It’s hard to comment on the state of branded content and entertainment as it is evolving so quickly, that the state is more fluid  than solid. As a category Branded Content and Entertainment is a relatively new one – there is no long history of awarded work to use as a benchmark. The positive side of this is that we are able to continually push the definition of the category into new areas, while the negative is that there isn’t a lot of outstanding work to look to for precedent of greatness.

When you look across the award show landscape, you may have noticed that very few top awards have been given out in these categories. Rather, the judges have decided not to honor anything. So as an industry, that is the challenge we have to rise to – we have to produce inspired work that creates our collective history of branded entertainment worthy of winning any award… especially one shaped like a pencil. 

What is and what isn’t branded entertainment content?

First and foremost it must be entertaining. Not just “haha” funny entertaining, but something you would actually choose to watch… and then watch again. Exit-Deutschland created a campaign called 'Nazis Against Nazis – Germany’s Most Involuntary Charity Walk' on paper I think it would be hard to understand the power of this as entertainment. But it is smart, powerful, and very engaging; a perfect embodiment of the definition. 

Nazi's Against Nazis

Second, it must be aligned to the brand’s marketing message. If I produce a heartwarming video of my dogs’ morning stretch routine and Gucci puts their logo at the end, that’s brand sponsored content. It will be entertaining (I promise), but have nothing to do with Gucci’s marketing message. 

I have seen several well-produced short film campaigns that didn’t win awards because the brand’s connection wasn’t felt in the film. Ogilvy Germany created one of the most brilliant campaigns I saw last year for Media Markt, called Rabbit Race. It is an extraordinary example of weaving the brand through the entire experience and doing every extension of it very well. This campaign sets the bar higher in my opinion.

Rabbit Race

What makes branded entertainment content great?

I think we are falling into some traps in this space where number of hits makes something great. Rebecca Black’s Friday video has over 85m hits on Youtube, does that make the song or the video great? No and No. Really great work can (and should) be shared and can also have huge success. The Lego Movie is a perfect example. But don’t think that just because a project hasn’t grossed almost $500mm that it still can’t be great. It can.

Lego Movie – Trailer

Entertainment is subjective as we know. VR porn might be really entertaining to some while others would disagree. Speaking of porn…a great example of great branded content is Testicular Cancer Awareness sticking a prostate cancer PSA in the middle of a Game of Thrones pornady called 'Game of Balls'. There were quite a few men that were not only surprised, but pleasantly entertained by this quick demo on how to check yourself.

Game of Balls - Case Study from David Jackson on Vimeo.

What is the most exciting thing to me in this category is that we are seeing work come from all over the place. Agencies, brands, filmmakers, technologists are finding each other in both traditional and non-traditional ways. I believe that this openness to creative partnerships will be the strongest force in the evolution of this category and lead to the best work.

Hey Gucci, don’t you think you need to make some dog beds and blankets!?!

If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Professional 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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