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Guide to Advertiser Funded Programming (UK)
Branded Content Marketing Association
32 Percy Street
London, W1T 2DE
T +44 (0)8700 622 394
1. AN INTRODUCTION TO ADVERTISER FUNDED
AFP, or Branded Content as it is now more often called, has been around since the
1930s in Radio and Television, when original daytime dramas in the US were funded by
washing powder manufacturers such as Proctor and Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive and the "Soap Opera" has remained with us ever since. The key to the successful strategy all those years ago was for the brands to give their customers the entertainment they wanted during the day. The brand would be associated and so appreciated. It was less about brand "values" and more about the brand as benefactor.
This simple and effective approach of putting viewers first when designing content should remain firmly at the heart of any Branded Content initiative today. There are all sorts of clever ways to exploit the content but the content must be able to stand alone without any brand involvement.
A wide range of blue chip brands have now been involved in the making of content; on television, in cinemas, at events, online and on mobiles: Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, the COI, Adidas and Vodafone, to name but a few.
Television is embedded in our culture and is much talked about and shared. All of which makes a close association with TV content an attractive and potentially very rewarding proposition for advertisers. AFP provides the opportunity for brands to participate in the phenomenon that a successful TV show can be; on air, off air and online.
2. AFP: WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT ISN'T A clear understanding of this is the key to a positive outcome and time well spent.
AFP can be described as 'any means by which an advertiser can have a deeper relationship with programming production beyond traditional media activity'. By this definition there must be a funding relationship (full or in part) with the programme or series. Put another way, it is 'beyond sponsorship' - where the advertiser’s money goes directly into production and leads to a degree of content/format ownership. It's programming that wouldn't exist without the brand partner.
It is not editorial about a brand.
Advertisers need to remember that they are buying into the editorial integrity of the programme and reaching consumers by association with the programmes values. This is not a restraint - it is the key to success. Gillette World of Sport was a great early example of an advertiser funded programme: it was a show that the target audience wanted - but it wasn’t about razors or shaving gel, butmore about bringing great content to its core target audience.
3. WHY SHOULD BRANDS GET INVOLVED AND HOW DOES AFP
BUILD ON TV SPONSORSHIP?Branded Content is often looked at as "sponsorship +", and this is a pretty good thing to keep front of mind. The consumer/brand relationship operates in a similar way. AFP can do all the things sponsorship can do for a brand - enhance, reinforce or shift a brand image etc, and much, much more.
A TV sponsorship campaign, done well, can yield real benefits for a brand if the right show is available, at the right time; if it can be secured; and if there is sufficient time to plan and co-ordinate the activation (exploitation) before it goes to air. However, this is not always possible.
Through AFP, advertisers can negate these provisos, maximise the potential of TV sponsorship on their own terms and garner a number of significant benefits from having a deeper relationship with programming and with broadcasters and producers.
4. SO WHAT CAN BRANDED CONTENT GIVE YOU THAT BUILDS
ON THE ESTABLISHED BENEFITS OF TV SPONSORSHIP? A competitive edge: great programmes that can be sponsored are in demand.
Branded content can help you avoid a bidding war for a diminishing amount of programming. You can exclude your competitors by owning the commercial relationship from the start.
Synchronicity: arrange TV content-led marketing at a time that suits your marketing cycle when there is no suitable TV content available "off the shelf".
Maximum value: longer lead times mean more time to better plan and budget for an integrated campaign. More time too, to enable you to co-create the additional off-air and multi-platform content that consumers want.
Deeper brand experience: a 30 or 60 minute brand experience; all of the content shapes consumers entire attitude and image of brand (not just the branded credits).
Additional exclusive content Franchise creation: AFP gives clients the opportunity to create a franchise from scratch that didn't exist before, e.g. Orange Playlist or Red Bull's ‘Flugtag’. It can also initiate the development of new programme or product categories.
There are many other potential marketing and commercial benefits, from title rights and credit integration, to product deals, promotional appearances and international barter of commercial airtime. The wide adoption of broadband, the hosting of television properties on new platforms and the enthusiasm of viewers for more of the right content related to their favourite programmes is of considerable incremental benefit for those involved.
The recent introduction of product placement in the UK is also likely to provide brands with new opportunities to turbo-charge their content partnerships; both sponsorships and AFPs.
5. SOME BRANDED CONTENT EXAMPLESLike great sponsorship campaigns, many branded content initiatives use entertainment as a gateway to further consumer interactions, both online and at events. Nike is a good example of this having funded a series of programmes with Sky, including Most Wanted (a nationwide search for the next generation of football talent led by Sir Alex Ferguson) and Wayne Rooney Street Striker with Coke Zero (a series of events and trials to find the UK’s best street footballer with Wayne Rooney as judge). Red Bull X Fighters also used the prominence of on-air thrills and spills to bring people together off air for an international 6 week competition of extreme motor-cross series, showcased on UKTV.
Here’s a selection of examples for you:
T-Mobile transmits its musical passion T-Mobile wants to amplify the impact of its Street Gigs, unique money can’t buy concerts by some of the hottest names in UK music It works with C4 to create an ad-funded series called Transmission with T-Mobile The activity increases the reach of the programme by 5,000% and the series is re-commissioned for a second and third series in 2007 The challenge T-Mobile wants to bring people closer to the things they love. For many youth audiences music ranks very high on the list of the things they love. T-Mobile established “Street Gigs” a series of spontaneous gigs in surprising and unique locations. The programme started in 2005 and expanded in 2006 with bands playing in locations as varied as the Natural History Museum, a car park and even a kebab shop. Headline acts have included Kasabian, the Strokes and Athlete. The brand let its customers experience these events by texting those in the area two hours before the gig with details of the band and location. The first few hundred to turn up with the invitation get in.
The challenge was to enable these exciting events to be experienced by a broader audience. T-Mobile needed to find a bigger audience without destroying the unique nature of the concerts.
The solution The solution was a co-funded show called Transmission with T-Mobile. A 12-part series of 60-minute shows featuring five live bands per show. Also included would be two big name studio guests and two presenters as the programme was filmed in 10 different cities across the UK. Broadcast on T4 and repeated on C4 and E4, T-Mobile was namechecked not only in the programme title but also in through co-branded trails across the network, a first for Channel 4. There was also editorial support for the show as well as traditional sponsorship break bumpers. The series started in June 2006 and ran until September. T-Mobile used the co-funded show as the heart of a wider campaign that also included online content, PR and a staff campaign with a ticket giveaway for TMobile employees.
Transmission averaged 2.3 TVRs among 16-34s, significantly more than the same T4 slot normally achieves and three times more than BBC 2’s coverage of T in the Park.
Adding TV to the Street Gigs programme amplified its reach by 5,000%.
Off-air the show generated 40 articles a week, all of which were positive and the number of requests to participate in the Street Gigs increased by 500% on the T-Mobile website. T-Mobile saw an increase in overall sign-ups around the broadcast and enjoyed above average click through rate of 12% – compared with an industry standard of 8%. New registrations are up year on year with registrations in the first quarter of 2007 matching the total achieved in the whole of 2006. Nearly 4,000 daily visits were made to the Transmission support sites and 500 mobile users also requested additional WAP content. The success of the first series was such that the show returned for a second run out in April 2007. Twelve 60 min shows were broadcast on C4 at 23.00 Friday nights with repeats on E4 on Saturdays and C4 mid-week. This achieved a loyal audience of around 600,000 peaking at around 1m viewers per week. A third series has been confirmed for broadcast in September 2007 with hosts Lauren Laverne and Steve Jones returning to the helm and taking viewers on a tour of another ten UK locations.
There will also be two one-hour best off shows to be broadcast around Christmas 2007.
British Gas gets kids to 'Green up Your Life' British Gas wanted to raise awareness of its Generation Green initiative to promote 'green' issues amongst children and their families An ad funded series of TV programmes called 'Green up Your Life' was developed to be shown on CITV alongside an online game.
100% of kids who watched the programme and played the game said they'd learnt something new about the environment.
The challenge British Gas had some of the strongest green credentials in its market as measured by carbon per household. However, in a time when company after company is shouting about their apparent green credentials, it is increasingly hard to achieve recognition and credibility. British Gas was particularly lagging behind in the green perception stakes.
After research indicated that actions speak louder than words when trying to communicate effectively with the public, British Gas decided to create change through a schools and communities programme called Generation Green. The programme aimed to promote environmental awareness and encourage green behaviour. The activity's
core objectives were to:
Raise awareness of Generation Green and 'green' issues amongst children Encourage environmentally conscious behaviours in children and their families through engaging content.
The solution The aim was to bring Generation Green to life by providing engaging content via channels that children would already be choosing to use. Therefore, they wanted to be involved with media brands that children trust and enjoy.
Research from Childwise showed that, on average, children spend 6 hours a day watching TV, playing games and surfing the internet. Therefore, TV was chosen to form the backbone of the campaign due to its ability to engage children powerfully with relevant content over an extended period of time. The campaign was shaped to include three media touch-points: TV, online and gaming.
An ad funded series of TV programmes called 'Green up Your Life' was developed to be shown on CITV. The 10 x 5 minute programmes featured three teams of kids (the EcoRangers) who were competing against each other to complete environmental challenges. The shows were aired daily on CITV from Sept 15th 2008 in the prime
3.50pm slot and then repeated on 3 occasions as they were received so well by viewers and had outperformed the slot average.
To drive awareness of Generation Green and British Gas, the initiative featured in the programme's sponsorship bumpers. There was a 10 second opening credit and a 5 second closing credit around each programme. Additionally, there was voice over promotion over the end title sequence that directed viewers to ITV.com/CITV to find out more information about Generation Green.
As well as the ad funded programme, British Gas took the Generation Green message to families through spot advertising. The campaign ran over a four week period from 15th September to 12th October. Key times when parents and children would be watching together were targeted, so programmes such as X-Factor, Harry Potter and the Pride of Britain Awards.
To compliment the TV campaign, British Gas showed the same TV ad copy at cinemas, conducted an adult-targeted online ad campaign around key ITV show sites such as This Morning and Loose Women and finally extended the TV programme content into an online game. The game was hosted on CITV.co.uk and Popcorn.co.uk (children's cinema site). Furthermore, the game was promoted by the end credits voiceover at the end of 'Green up Your Life' episodes. This created an even stronger link between the TV show and the game.
Results The Generation Green project was always designed to be a long term commitment, yet initial results show the campaign has been extremely successful.
BARB figures showed a total of 843,000 individuals and 525,000 kids saw the show.
However, as the show was deemed such a success by ITV, it was repeated in 2009 with an increase to 933,000 individuals and 563,000 kids.
In addition to this, 100% of kids who watched the programme and played the game said they'd learnt something new about the environment.
Viewers of the TV show were 108% more likely to see Generation Green as a positive 'green' example than non-viewers.