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Brands will increasingly aim to own content

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CANNES: Going by the opening day of MIPTV, one would be excused for thinking that the big advertising issue of today is whether TiVo (and technologies of its ilk) represent the end of the 30-second spot as we know it.

The two sessions Advertiser-Funded Programming: Get Your Brand on TV! and Branded Programming Clinic: The Producers Meet The Brands and The Broadcasters looked at the issue from all sides and the conclusion: Branded entertainment is a burgeoning space but is still very much a work in progress.

Interestingly, the perspective of two advertisers on different sides of the fence as it were (who spoke in two different sessions) were diametrically opposite on the subject of funded programming. Chris Monaco, director entertainment marketing of liquor giant Allied Domecq, said the kind of restrictions placed on alcohol advertising (a big issue in India as well) perforce meant that his company was increasingly looking to own content across the whole value chain, including distribution.

Monaco, was however, quite clear that there had to be very clear objectives laid down in how to go about it. What Monaco strongly advised against was the rush by many companies to get onto the latest hit without a clear action plan or clarity in terms of what the whole effort was meant to achieve for the brand.

Allied Domecq, according to Monaco, entered into funded programming only if it was in from concept to delivery and results were based on clear parameters - Did it meet our goals out of the gate? Stressing the point, Monaco said his programming roadmap was laid right up to 2007 and, therefore, was no question of ever pitching to fund the latest hit show.

For Nandini Gulati, manager, Integrated Marketing Communication, EEME - Coca-Cola  UK, however, speaking at the Branded Programming Clinic, the way to go was through content association rather than ownership of content.

Gulati raised a valid point that had been rather submerged in the earlier session which had an all-American panel (as opposed to an all-English panel for her session), that the very real danger of branded programming was that the increasingly sophisticated viewer would get turned off by increasing branding activity, which could make everyone a loser.

In all fairness though, that was the thread that was running through both the sessions  that it would be foolhardy to enter a branding activity if there was no fit between the storyboard and the brand.

Some points that came through:

Reality and lifestyle shows generally lent themselves to branding better than scripted shows.

Branding on scripted shows, if done well, offers a much greater payback because of long shelf life

Brands will increasingly aim to own content

Big ideas need to work across platforms

And the future? According to Channel 4 International - UK deputy managing director John Nolan, The best is yet to come.

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