Delegates from across the branded entertainment and television landscape converged on Convene in New York this week, to discuss trends and trade tips at the realscreen-presented BCON Expo.
With speakers from firms such as Google, PepsiCo, NBC Entertainment, OgilvyEntertainment, Intel, Awesomeness TV, Discovery Networks International and Universal Music Enterprises in attendance, the day-long event – formerly known as realscreen’s Branded Entertainment Forum – promised a broad array of content.
Kicking off proceedings was a keynote chat between Vice Media chief strategic officer Spencer Baim and Bungalow Media + Entertainment CEO Robert Friedman.
Discussing August’s $70 million deal with 21st Century Fox, which saw the Rupert Murdoch-controlled firm acquiring a 5% stake in Vice – and subsequently valuing the Brooklyn-based multimedia company atUS$1.4 billion – Baim said that “the main priority now is global expansion,” with Vice targeting India and Russia for its next outposts.
The conversation was followed by a panel session featuring Pepsico senior director of brand marketing Louis Arbetter and GE’s director of global digital marketing and programming Paul Marcum, in which the two execs discussed the reasons and the ways that content marketing worked for them.
The panel was moderated by Nick Parish, the North American editor for Contagious North America.
Following on from this, Lance Weiler – Reboot Stories co-founder and multi-hyphenate writer, filmmaker and content creator – shared his thoughts on what it means to be a storyteller in the 21st Century, and the new approaches needed to engage modern audiences, while also sharing his experiences as an alumni of the Sundance Screenwriting Lab.
Weiler’s thought-provoking presentation was followed by one of the most popular sessions of the day, entitled What’s Next: Beyond the Webisode.
The session saw OgilvyEntertainment president Doug Scott, Grip Limited creative partner Randy Stein and The Chernin Group’s EVP of digital production and programming Billy Parks offering case studies of work that has reframed the definition of what branded content could be, and discussing how the ventures came to be.
Parks highlighted his firm’s work on @SummerBreak, a yearlong collaboration between BBDO, AT&T and Chernin that resulted in a daily reality web series, which delved into the lives of high school seniors as they spent their final summer together before college.
Among the highlights was Parks explanation of how ‘Don’t subtweet your Homies‘ became an organic hit, as Twitter followers began to disseminate one of the show’s stars’ thoughts on anonymous attacks on friends.
The session also saw Stein discussing the success his company had with a 90-minute comedy feature film called The Movie Out Here.
Built as an evolution on the traditional webisode, the film was produced by Alliance Films and funded by Kokanee, a British Columbia-based brewery. In addition to traditional product placement, the film featured a number of characters from Kokanee’s past campaigns, as well as significant crowdsourcing from fans of the beer.
After luncheon roundtables, featuring hosts such as OgilvyEntertainment creative director Otto Bell, Bark Bark creative director and founding partner Brian Tolleson and 180 Los Angeles chief creative officer William Gelner, the afternoon sessions began in earnest with a talk from Xavier Kochhar, entitled Understanding Audiences Through the DNA of Content.
The session saw Kochhar – a former Disney exec and William Morris agent, and now the CEO of analytics firm Structured Data Intelligence – arguing that Hollywood has been slow to use the opportunities presented by data mining, compared to other industries. The talk saw him presenting suggestions for the ways in which studios, distributors and advertising partners can get more value.
Following Kochhar’s talk came the Bringing Branded Content to Life session, chaired by realscreen editor and content director Barry Walsh.
The panel session saw speaker from firms such as Google, Awesomeness TV and Discovery Networks International discussing the factors behind making branded content work, and looking at how best to execute strategies once deals are done.
Walsh’s panel was followed by a case study with Intel, examining the brand’s partnership with San Francisco-based agency Pereira & O’Dell for the Inside trilogy – three distinctly different social films that encourage audience collaboration using three very different storytelling approaches.
Finally, the day closed with the Sounding Off: Exploring Opportunities in Music session. The panel examined approaches to branded content in the music space, with contribution from execs from Viacom; Universal Music Enterprises: Live Nation Network; JWT; Back Roads Entertainment; and S. Carter Enterprises and Roc Nation.
The wide-ranging discussion leapt from the continued relevance of the VMAs as a key calendar date for the music industry, to anniversary tie-ins for big acts such as Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley, and the way an artist such as Jay Z would weigh up whether or not to associate with a particular brand.
Realscreen‘s next major event will be the Realscreen Summit in Washington DC, which takes place in January next year at the Washington Hilton.