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Branded content: The next big thing

Branded content: The next big thing

Branded content could represent an incredible opportunity for brands in the Middle East. But it has to be thought through, says Mark St Andrew, Head Reporter with Cream.

September 13, 2010 5:09 by

Branded content came of age in 2001, when widespread internet access created a new global audience that could be reached for a fraction of the cost of traditional broadcast media. BMW led the way with “The Hire”, a series of films featuring Hollywood A-list talent in short promos that used subtle branding and zero ad-copy. Online platforms and digital interactive technology have opened up new creative opportunities for brands, as they move from “interrupters” of broadcaster’s content to “creators” of their own. Perhaps Jimmy Stewart should have retired from acting and gone into advertising.

Branded content should not be confused with sponsorship. BC implies creative involvement on the part of the brand, where as sponsorship effectively writes a cheque for a finished concept or product. The key to effective branded content is find that hook which engages the consumer, and invites them to buy into a brand’s values – a mutually rewarding relationship for both parties.

TV production in the Middle East has enjoyed unprecedented growth over the past seven years, with Egypt leading the way in TV production. There are currently 50 Egyptian produced programs with budgets hitting the 7.5 million Egyptian pound ($1.3 million) mark, which demonstrates the viewer’s appetite for content. In terms of numbers, the branded content opportunity is too good to miss, but it is an opportunity that must be carefully planned. The secret lies in identifying brand with a suitable content partner, illustrated perfectly by the Gulf Air/CNBC partnership.

Mark St Andrew is head reporter with Cream, specialists in marketing innovation.

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