For TV networks, branded content could serve as a prime differentiator as competition ramps up in the video media space, with newer entrants such as YouTube, TikTok and Netflix vying for the same ad dollars. One media buyer said notable pushes in upfront conversations from the likes of Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and NBCUniversal on their vast rosters of legacy intellectual property “is where they’re going to shine versus the distributors like Roku or even Netflix—a lot of their inventory is really distributing other people's content.”
Diageo’s Kelly still points out the value of balancing branded content with more traditional advertising, particularly as capabilities in advanced audiences and targeted creative delivery grow—but with a needed shift in emphasis. Boosting a brand’s story and the growing power of fandom, traditional advertising could be informed by the branded content built by the brand to further expand the value of those partnerships.
“Where I think we get it wrong, when we get caught up looking at ratios of spend—shift that to thinking about if we were to create content out of all the experiences we did, and then redeploy that content to a broader audience,” said Kelly. “We will have a far more effective plan.”
Recently, Johnnie Walker activated around the 2023 Oscars by constructing a red carpet made of vignettes representing female filmmakers, many of whom had been snubbed in the show’s nominations. However, the brand refrained from advertising in the official broadcast on ABC, instead opting to focus on the mission-oriented experience “that begets content and inspires people to get involved” rather than traditional advertising, Kelly told Ad Age at the time.
Similarly, AMC’s Granito said the value of combining targeted advertising alongside branded content is “to be everywhere that show’s audience is.”
“You Are Here” and other branded series “are the cherry on top creative extensions for those original series,” said Granito. “So it makes a whole lot of sense to come on for the whole creative story versus just one piece of it.”
“I believe that people love brands that connect with their values. They love brands that give them utility, that entertain them and that play a role in their life and show up where they want them to show up,” said Diageo’s Kelly. “Some of the content will be just joyful, drink suggestions posed in a way that makes you want to reach through the screen and drink it. Some of the content will be turning up with people who are doing things that you admire in situations that you think are cool. Some of it is turning up and actually making a difference in communities.”