I love branded content that entertains or enriches me

by the BCMA and Bruce Bildsten

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.

Bruce Bildsten, Consulting Creative Director, loves branded content that entertains or enriches him.

Learn more in his short interview below.

1. Why do you love branded content?

I don’t love branded content, I love great branded content.

I love branded content that entertains or enriches me, where the tie to the brand is natural and the product is seamlessly integrated. Unfortunately, that’s a rare thing just as great advertising is a rare thing. We did BMW Films fifteen years ago, and I would have that that branded content would have come much, much further in that time. There is great work out there, but just not a lot of it. There’s so much talk and just not much action.

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

Besides rewarding and entertaining me, I love branded content that connects me more deeply to the brands I love. But because I’m in business of creating brand content, I’ll also seek out quality content for brands I’m not interested in. It comes down to the same qualities I seek in film or television: A compelling story, strong filmmaking craft and a reward for my time. While there are brilliant examples of longer-form branded content, I think the sweet spot is five to fifteen minutes. It’s a length that makes it easier for a consumer to commit to and it’s also easily shareable through social media. But just as important, you can do a lot with that amount of time. There are brands that are doing brilliant documentaries with eight minutes. And I hope we’ve proven with our BMW Films that we can tell a great dramatic story in ten or eleven minutes. I think that’s a length of time that we’ll be consuming more and more in the future on platforms like Amazon Prime or Netflix. Think about how busy our lives are and how nice it would be to watch a great fifteen-minute film before you go to bed at the end of a long day. Brands have an opportunity to show how that can be done.

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

The one piece of advice I’d give someone creating branded content is to never forget that it’s not an ad. You have to reward and entertain or consumers will tune you out. You can’t make effective branded content that’s a litany of product features: That’s not its role. There needs to be a real –not contrived or borrowed link- between the brand and the content. In BMW Films the car was just another character in the story. Our (wise!) clients didn’t insist that we demonstrate the navigation system or keep the car pristine. The product’s only role was to help Clive Owen go like hell. And that did more for the brand than any ad ever could. Restraint, restraint, restraint. They say advertising isn’t art. OK, I get that. But branded content can and should be. It must REWARD the viewer for his or her time. 

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

In terms of branded content that I love, I’m not going to pick an obvious example or even one that’s in the award shows. Rather, it’s content for a brand I love. I’m a lifelong cyclist. There’s a fantastic British cycling apparel and accessories brand called Rapha. Although it’s relatively new (2004), it’s one of those brands that just gets everything right: Design, technology, community, web, and retail. Their stores are clubhouses, for chrissakes. When a package arrives from Rapha everything is perfect, right down to the tissue paper… a reproduction of a vintage euro cycling newspapers. But most important, it’s a brand that understands the core of what makes riders tick. Their photography and social media are so strong. They get a famous photographer to follow the Tour de France and post on Instagram and it’s almost all the coverage you need. But their films are what branded content should be. They’ve made 300 of them! They’re beautiful documentaries –just stunning filmmaking- that get to the soul of the sport. I watch them and I want to buy their things and ride. There’s another brand, the premium cooler brand Yeti, which is starting to do the same thing. But Rapha was there first. 

Here’s their latest: http://pages.rapha.cc/rides/boulder

And here’s one that tells their brand’s story, beautifully: http://pages.rapha.cc/feature/seventeen-for-2017

To see Bruce Bildsten’s latest brand film for BMW, “The Escape”, go here.

To see one of Bruce’s favorites of the original BMW Films, go here.

Bruce Bildsten spent nearly 25 years as a writer and creative director at Fallon. In 2001 he led the team that created the groundbreaking branded content, BMW Films “The Hire.” He is now a creative consultant, working directly with clients (including BMW) and select agencies. He’s also a part owner of a 152-year-old woolen mill in Minnesota.