Branded Entertainment!

What happens when a can’t-miss, sure-fire, hit-making band releases an album that simply doesn’t deliver? As an example, let’s use The Rolling Stones (who just so happen to be my favorite group of all time… again, “all time”?) a band with a rich catalog containing over 20+ albums, the majority of which reached platinum or multi-platinum status. Obviously and deservedly they are regarded as one of the most important bands of the latter half of the 20th century, The Stones simply put rock ‘n’ roll on its back and made all the right steps along the way.

Let’s just say by some freak accident, The Stones released an album without any resonating quality to it, with resonance being measured by record sales, critical acclaim and fan fervor. Immediate tangible effects would correlate to fan and critical disappointment leading to unspectacular record sales, ultimately affecting the bottom line. If this occurrence is repeated, beyond the immediate loss of revenue, the band would suddenly find themselves waging an uphill battle to prove their worth to their fan base. They may also be forced into a position where they are ability to build upon their past successes. Without saying, The Stones, having attained the status of rock gods, could easily take a hit like this — but could a brand?

If we replace the band with an already established brand, and replace the record release with a campaign launch, what happens when the campaign is off the mark? Immediate results would affect the bottom line sales — and, if repeated, damage brand equity through ineffective messaging.

Specific to my point, and building upon my last posts regarding branded Webisodic content — as with anything else, proper planning and execution is key to success.

Doing something new just to be novel can be a brave exploration, but charting new territories must be done carefully. Branded Webisodic content must be treated with its own strategy and have its own set of considerations. Let’s use the SEM world as an example. There are a plethora of dos and don’ts when marketers set up their search strategy: relevant keywords, optimized sites and splash pages, bid strategies, and many more tactical considerations that must be met and identified to ensure a successful search campaign.

Now let’s switch back to branded Webisodic entertainment, and look at some of the guidelines marketers need to take into consideration.

Alignment is the key to any brand’s success in this arena. Matching brands and their products to the core essence and arc of a show is necessary. As responsible stewards of their respective brands, marketers must be aware of, and cautious about what content will and will not fit their image and target. Thus the importance of matching proper content to a brand’s message.

The content must be entertaining. Whether it’s informational in nature, or intended to provoke emotion, content needs to engage the audience.  The real value to branded digital content is its ability to act as an immersive engagement tool. By capturing the attention of the audience, brands are able to tell a story over the course of the series, thus creating a relationship among the audience, the show, and the brand.

Matching the right eyeballs with the right content is just as tantamount. Content needs to be seeded to the correct outlets. This helps to get it virally spread across the digital marketplace. A multichannel distribution strategy taking into consideration possible portal placement, online video aggregators, widgets and Web applications is necessary to create the reach and frequency needed to engage the audience.

In conclusion, brands must take precautionary steps when creating their digital content strategy. Alignment, entertainment, and a sound distribution strategy are the three pillars to having a branded show more like the Hampden Park Stadium show in Glasgow 2006 — and less like the Altamont Speedway Free Festival. If these guidelines are considered, one safeguards against mishandling a branded Webisodic campaign.

So, just like The Stones, a brand better make the right music, for the right audience, and play the music where people want to hear it.

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