Branded content is just another style of advertising, and one which really knots up the knickers of Sean Cummins, global CEO of ad agency Cummins&Partners.
Speaking at the National Radio Conference on the Gold Coast last Friday, Cummins was adamant branded content is a trend.
“Branded content seems to be the latest style of advertising. It is in at the moment, but like most styles, it will go out,” he told the audience.
“And if you choose to create branded content, you better make damn sure that you have a bloody good story to tell, otherwise who the hell is going to listen to two minutes of self-important, self-absorbed drivel about a brand.”
And it’s an ad style that irks him. “Since when do we need to disguise advertising?” he asked. “In theory, never. But it seems advertising has moved away from its key roles to persuade creatively.
“It’s my opinion that consumers don’t mind being sold to. Does the blurry line make the sales message more covert, indirect, potentially lacking authenticity and sincerity because it’s trying to be kind of something it’s not?
“I thought the role of advertising was to actually not blend in to the medium in which it’s put.”
While branded content is all about storytelling, Cummins claimed ‘storytelling’ was the biggest buzzword in the industry today.
In response to a question from the audience about whether advertising agencies are moving towards branded content because they can’t come up with anything interesting, Cummins pondered it for a minute.
“It’s about find an angle, find a way through, find a hook and relentlessly push that,” he said.
“Fuck the storytelling.”
Early last year Cummins&Partners created a piece of content for bourbon brand Woodstock. Instead of creating the typical hands-running-through-the-grain-of-a-worn-out-hessian-sack, Cummins noted how the agency had to find another angle.
“Because that bourbon is arguably no better than any other bourbon but we found a charming way to do it. Because it got through to people.”
Watch the ad below.
“Good advertising is not about releasing the storytelling to PR and just getting the facts and filming it and hoping people care,” he said, adding a bewildered shrug about recent briefs.
“You see the briefs out there at the moment. They think that every fucking thing is interesting. Greek yoghurt is interesting. It’s not,” he lamented.
“So you’ve got to use creativity to try and make things more enjoyable. It’s supposed to reward people…by giving them something crafted, something gorgeous, something funny that says thank you for bothering to waste your two minutes on me.
“I think the teamwork between media companies and the agencies are the key to making sure it’s a value exchange and it’s a win win for everyone.”