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However, it’s not always about starting afresh, and successful AFPs don’t necessarily have to originate with a new idea. Sometimes they come into being once a programme is already underway.
For example ‘Frock Me’ was first aired in October 2008. It was commissioned by Channel 4 as a T4 flagship fashion series presented by Alexa Chung, Henry Holland and Radio 1’s stylist Gemma Cairney. In Spring 2009 the series was re-commisioned and a partner sought to fill the funding gap. TK Maxx was the ideal partner as they wanted to up their credentials within the fickle world of fashion and a branded content relationship with ‘Frock Me’ gave them brilliant access and endorsement from the coolest of the cool. Publicity shots were used for in-store POS and the show generated exclusive interviews and one-off pieces in key magazines and other media. And, of course, they commissioned exclusive additional televisual content for the TK Maxx facebook app and for partner sites.
Sage and ITV worked together to bring back a pre-existing show – ‘The Krypton Factor’
- to inject personality into their brand and drive engagement with their business software. Because this was a content partnership, the advertiser could access additional material which appeared on their website, direct mail and software etc. The funding of the Krypton Factor supported Sage's own interactive website "trainyourbusinessbrain.com" which utilised the games featured on Krypton Factor to calculate a "business IQ". Offline, Krypton Factor appeared in all Sage's other marketing communications and the campaign lived beyond the 10 week run of the programme.
7. THE LEGAL BIT: ENSURING EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCEIn reference to Advertiser Funded Programming, people often talk of a degree of "ownership". But what does this mean, and to what extent can a funder be involved in the TV programme?
On air, AFPs are subject to the same Ofcom broadcasting code rules as conventional sponsored programmes. Crucially, the funder must not influence programming content or scheduling in such a way as to affect the editorial independence or responsibility of the broadcaster and the commercial relationship must be transparent.
However, during the initiation phase, before deciding to invest their collective time and money in the programme idea, the broadcaster, producer and advertiser will have
discussed and agreed the following:
Programme format & script outline Cast outline including presenter Sponsorship credits As to "ownership", the extent to which any additional approvals are awarded may depend on the extent to which the advertiser is funding the project: e.g. fully funding or
a co-production and sharing rights with broadcaster or producer. These may include:
Platforms and territories for distribution; i.e. mobile, online and geographic region Any third party licensing rights; e.g. logos, use of copyright by others Marketing and PR activity in support of the programme/ content An advertiser can have more influence on the co-creation and deployment of off-air and multi-platform brand content assets.
This framework helps to define the stakeholder roles and protect the editorial independence and integrity of the production. In so doing, it creates a powerful platform for brand content marketing - programmes that viewers will want to watch, from people who know how to make them.
8. HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF BRANDED CONTENT
1. The most important thing of all is to know why you're doing it. Set yourself clear objectives from day one. However, brand content programming is about partnership and good relationships. Establishing and understanding the objectives, roles and contributions of the other stakeholders from the start is of equal importance.
2. Get help. This is an exciting but somewhat complex market, where a little help with navigation can go a long way. Ask the right questions at the beginning: e.g.
who has the idea and who owns it? Who deals with commissioners, broadcasters? Who deals with the production company? Who does the deal and who is the contract with? Who owns and handles syndication and secondary rights? Who implements the off-air? Who owns the off-air? Consider how you will justify your Advertiser Funded Programming. How will the ROI be measured hard measures, such as product sales, shareholder value, or soft measures, such as brand perceptions and awareness? How will the AFP fit into your broader communications?
3. The programme format must be strong and stand out against its competition. It must justify its own place in the schedule as well as fulfil the marketing expectations of the client. Making a hit TV programme is difficult. Getting a place in the schedule is the target for an industry of talented producers in a competitive market: 95% of their programme ideas won't get a commission. The best ones that fit, will.
4. It follows that there is stiffer competition for a peak slot on a terrestrial channel.
Big numbers have their place. However, it's not all about reach. Advertisers can use the multi-channel world of today's television to create destination programming for tightly targeted groups. There are also opportunities for brands to co-create content and engage with viewers through entertainment away from the broadcast stream. We know that consumers will seek out content from brands, if the content and call-to-action is right.
5. Programme partnerships can yield real benefits for all parties. However the journey can be a long one from the first meeting to the post-broadcast party.
Continual project management is required to deliver a satisfactory result. Time frames can be long and the time committed may be more than you think.
Scheduling changes are prevalent within all broadcasters - slots cannot and will not be guaranteed. The trick is to deliver the best product possible, which will then be scheduled by the broadcaster as best as possible. Remember too, that broadcasters often schedule 4-6 months ahead of transmission, although there are examples of some very swiftly created and broadcast AFPs.
6. To get the most out of branded content, clients must work to deliver value off-air via their own marketing or commercial activity. The broadcast sponsorship element of an AFP in isolation will not provide an ROI; there must be other routes to delivering realisable value, either via international markets, off-air initiatives or multi-channel distribution. In most cases, branded content adds weight and cutthrough to the client's total communication mix. High brand awareness, driven by other TV and non-TV activities creates a better platform for AFP.
7. With a lack of prime time branded content slots, clients should invest in marketing support to promote the programme itself. As the equal stakeholder model suggests, it's in all parties' interest to get share of viewership.
8. Don't be too literal about the link between brand and content: it's about shared values. Enjoy the journey!
9. SUMMARY Through brand content programming, advertisers have the opportunity to engage with consumers in the context of entertainment that reflects their brand values, and to turn that engagement into dialogue.
A deep relationship with good TV programming creates a hub around which a plethora of promotional tools can spin, both on-air and off-air. These include online and mobile applications, events, merchandise, PR, trade hospitality, point of sale licensing and other media promotions. Non-broadcast platforms are an excellent means of amplifying the broadcast commission.