Branded entertainment can be many things. It can be product placement, branded content, brand storytelling the options are endless. From Red Bull TV to the Dulux sponsorship of Channel 4’s Changing Rooms, there are numerous iterations. Arguably, the best branded entertainment is long form content.
If brands get long form content right, in the shape of TV series or documentaries, it can deliver exciting opportunities, and there’s always a possibility of it going further and partnering with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Bloomberg TV etc.
There’s already so much short form content available across every single social media channel, it’s increasingly difficult to compete. Creating quality editorial content with depth and breadth, even if it’s underwritten by brands, can live in both digital and broadcast environments in perpetuity with long lasting impact.
But what does really great long form video content or ‘branded content’ look like? From our experiences working with a variety of renown brands, our top five picks include:
A long running five-year campaign we worked on for the America’s Navy, called Faces of the Fleet, includes five to eight minutes long films which are some of the most successful content they have ever created. Engagement rates are high because they’re all about empowerment – inspiring and authentic human stories about sailors who have had their life changed for the better by the Navy. For this campaign, so far 700 fit-for-channel assets have generated over 149 million impressions, 19 million shares, likes and positive comments, and over two million teenagers engaged to the last second.
We created a vast amount of digital video content because there are so many different digital platforms in which to find your audience. For the Navy, its YouTube audience might be very different to its Instagram or TikTok audience. We’re constantly working with our partners to create customised content for each platform, and each for a different audience segment.
As part of another long running partnership, CLICKON has been helping the sports clothing brand, Under Armour, to unearth the powerful stories behind athletes and empower the next generation of athletes through an extensive series of provocative and inspiring video series.
We most recently partnered with Under Armour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IV. Showcasing the lives of four tenacious female athletes as they inspire the next generation of women to be fearless and stand up for the betterment of their sport, the series highlights the struggles they face and how they’re tearing down systemic barriers.
The backbone of the campaign was the idea of teamwork, that no athlete is alone, and it’s the people around us – teammates, parents, friends, trainers, teachers – who help to lift us up and show us the path when we’re lost or when we’ve been forgotten.
We have been helping the sports clothing brand to unearth the powerful stories behind athletes and empower the next generation of athletes through an extensive series of provocative and inspiring video series. They’ve reached tens of millions of teens across YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.
A TV series produced for Lenovo was the first ever technology talk show format of its kind produced by a brand. The series, initially designed to run on social channels, featured technology experts talking to each other about the biggest issues facing our society today. The only branding was the title, Lenovo Late Night I.T.
For this series an Emmy nominated host was hired to guide candid human conversations with the guests. The goal was to shift focus away from Lenovo being known as a PC devices company, to one that’s at the forefront of transformative technology. The long form content performed so well on social and digital platforms, the entire series was picked up by Bloomberg TV, just two months after it launched.
This was the first time Lenovo invested in long form content and became their most successful advertising campaign globally last year. It generated a seven-point increase in brand consideration, 72 million views, 300 million impressions: 70% higher than industry benchmarks and had a 20% completion rate.
It has also won two awards. These include Best in Show at the ANA’s 2022 B2 Awards competition (May 2022) and Business to Business at the 14th Annual Shorty Awards (May 2022). Due to its success a second series was commissioned and made its debut in early February 2023.
Japan National Tourism Organisation
The Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) and Japan’s largest five-star airline, ANA, unveiled its first ever net zero ad campaign in July. In partnership with marketing solutions company CLICKON and full-service creative agency Kemosabe, a fully sustainable production solution was used to reduce carbon emissions by 88.5%*.
Capturing off-the-beaten-track experiences across six regions of Japan from Hokkaido to Kyushu, the campaign fronted by American actress Uma Thurman looked to encourage tourists back to Japan post-pandemic. The multimillion-dollar campaign was used across a wide range of media channels including a brand-new interactive hotspot website for travellers to explore and plan their itinerary based on their passions and interests.
Using teams on the ground in Japan the campaign was shot across a six-week period capturing over 60 locations and experiences without any international travel. The shoot was managed by a team based in London, which utilised CLICKON’s end to end workflow technology. This was used to review and feedback on content as it was shot and uploaded to the CLICKON IQ platform. Giving real-time feedback to the local team ensured high quality content was captured and to brief – saving time, investment, and the carbon footprint. It delivered 40% cost savings and 35% time savings compared to traditional production approaches.
Red Bull is renowned for investing in a variety of entertaining long form content. We worked with Red Bull Media House on the first of a kind, original branded documentary series that explored the global phenomenon of esports in different corners of the world.
Around the globe, diverse cultures are uniquely embracing eSports and developing their own thriving identities, often in the face of adversity. ‘Part of the Game’ explored the meteoric rise of eSports communities – exploring the stories from the bustling PC bangs of Seoul to the European eSports hub of Berlin. Over 1,200 fit-for-channel video assets generated 36% year-on-year brand engagement increase, 84% positive sentiment and over 4 million views.
Brand funded entertainment is evergreen multi-purpose compelling content, which authentically connects brands with consumers through inspiring stories. You’re creating something that helps customers understand what you stand for as a brand, as well as sell a product or service. It has long term value when it’s used in all the right places – which could be for months, years or potentially forever in our digital-first world. By opening an honest authentic window into a world which humanises your brand, educates consumers and generates engagement and loyalty – the opportunities and positive impact is limitless.
Richard Wilson is Global CEO at CLICKON. For more information visit: www.clickon.co
This article originally ran in Little Black Book.