Branded content is the future

by the Branded Content Marketing Association and Samantha Glynne, VP Branded Entertainment, Fremantle Media

August 2017

The BCMA is in a privileged position to have access to the leading experts and pioneers of the branded content industry. This interview is a part of ‘For The Love of Branded Content’ series which brings together ‘thought-leaders’ from across the globe to share their ‘love’ and advice on what it takes to succeed in the ever-evolving world of branded content.

Samantha Glynne is a VP Branded Entertainment, Fremantle Media who says she loves branded content because “it’s breaking down barriers” and “bringing new creative minds to the content business”.

Learn more in her short interview below. 

1. Why do you love branded content?

Branded content is the future. No, it really is. There has been a lot of buzz around branded content for a long time, but we finally feel that branded content is coming into its own. And we’re absolutely passionate about it.

2. What do you love the most about branded content?

We love it because it’s breaking down barriers, it’s providing more funding, it’s bringing new creative minds to the content business, and you know what, it works.

3. One piece of advice you’d love to give someone undertaking branded content?

The best piece of advice we would offer is to approach branded content like a TV format – or intellectual property (IP). This is the optimum way to create a long-running, effective and global campaign to reach consumers.

4. What is the best example of branded content you love?

At FremantleMedia, we create content that has an overall concept and recurring elements, in other words IP that we own. And because we own it, we can re-create it around the world, we can protect it and we can move it across platforms depending on the varying regulatory issues country to country. We can create a global sentiment and optimise it locally, which sounds like something a lot of brands would like to do. Let’s take a look at one of the biggest formats in the world to illustrate this.

For more than a decade, Got Talent has been gracing TV screens around the world. It’s created global superstars, spawned many impersonations and was recognised by Guinness as the World Record Holder for Most Successful Reality TV Format. It’s been made in more than 70 countries and has millions of social media fans.

From its initial incarnation as a pilot called “Paul O’Grady’s Got Talent” to its first commission by US network NBC and subsequent commissions in France, Portugal, Russia, Australia, Belgium and Greece, the show evolved as it went.

As the show travelled, it became clear which themes worked on a global level – variety, humour, family, dreams coming true, competition, and talent. And it became a talent search rather than a talent show - an important distinction for anyone who remembers the classic shows of the 60s and 70s.

It became clear that having the presenters remain backstage was a key element of the format; as were having three judges and red buzzers.

In 2007 - series three of Britain’s Got Talent - we experienced that very rare thing in TV, a moment that captured the world’s attention and catapulted the brand to new heights. Susan Boyle’s first audition encapsulates everything about the show that has made it a success: dreams coming true, talent, expectation, surprise, redemption; a moving voice, a humbled Simon, a win for the loser!

As the YouTube clip went viral – it’s been seen more than 380 million times to date - broadcasters realised they had a built-in audience so pitches soon turned to bidding wars and the format began its meteoric growth.

So a hit was born, and it was time to roll it out as a format. Having been making Idols around the world for some years, we had already learned a few things and set the process in motion: brand bibles, flying producers, centrally approved creative, coordinated advertiser integrations and more.

Whilst nailing down the core elements of a global format, the team also inherently understood that for this show to work it also needed to feel deeply local. From judges, presenters, and talent, to run time and brands, the show feels simultaneously like a local talent search and a global entertainment brand, and therein lies its success.

The regionality of the show was what made it work: Pearly Kings and Queens in the UK, gumboot dancing in South Africa, throat singing in Mongolia – it’s the only global format that is really very regional.

And once the format was established and selling to virtually every country in the world, we had to keep it fresh and relevant. Keeping a long-running format in demand requires the perfect balance between continuity and evolution.

We introduced a new element, the Golden Buzzer, which sends contestants directly to the live finals from the audition phase. It added a fresh new dimension to the show and another way for the viewing audience and the fans in studio to get involved. Chants of “Push the button!”, “Push the button!” are as much a part of the show now as the original red buzzer.

We made sure the brand was living on every platform where our fans were. Having experienced the power of YouTube even in its nascent state after the Susan Boyle audition, we have continued to use social and digital media to keep the brand fresh.

Got Talent has more than 54 million fans across nearly 150 social media accounts around the world, numerous bespoke apps for the best mobile experiences and innovative ways to vote.

And we optimised the interest we had from brands around the world who wanted to share in the Got Talent proposition.

The format continues to be hugely attractive to a range of brands, from food and beverage to cars, tech and finance.

Last year FremantleMedia and our partners at Syco did almost 150 brand integrations in the show across 18 different categories in 32 territories.

Ten+ years, 72 local versions, and billions of social media fans…imagine a brand campaign on this level? The kind of branded content we’re passionate about could deliver something spectacular at this kind of scale.