For the first time, MIPCOM’s keynote will be delivered by an ad executive. Maurice Lévy, president and director of the Publicis Group, plans to delve into the relationships between the ad and television worlds. And if viewers think the only interaction between the two are those 30-second breaks in programs, they haven’t been paying attention. Branded content – the integration of clients directly into the production process – is becoming more ubiquitous. All you have to do is look at this market’s floor plan for proof.
The Branded Content Marketing Association is returning for its second mip – its first being MIPTV, where it also ran a panel on branded content and sponsorship. The marketing umbrella organization returns with ad agencies bbh and Universal McCann – the latter exhibited for the first time itself last MIPCOM after attending the market since 2000. Also under the BCMA banner are two prodcos: London-based All3Media arm North One Television, and Munich’s Telcast International. In fact, Telcast is giving up its own booth space this time around to come in under the BCMA banner.
Although other Telcast subsidiaries continue to produce and distribute ‘traditional’ programming, head of marketing Sarah Coursey says the company had an epiphany of late. ‘We had a lot of broadcasters,’ says Coursey, ‘who said: ‘We love your program. If you can get a brand onboard and get it sponsored, we’ll put it on air.’
So we thought, ‘Okay, let’s go to the brands…’ We learned that we were a branded content company that was marketing itself as a production company.’
Coursey says branded content has gotten a bad name in some circles because it has been poorly done. She notes that the pitch has got to be a ‘pull, not a push. It is not interruptive, but engaging. That is really what branded content is about. You have to create an entertainment experience. Brands are realizing they need to become the owners of content. They need to engage audiences by creating an experience to help them find the brand… because the consumer is getting more hip.’
Alison Knight, secretary of the BCMA, observes that broadcasters, consumers and producers have been ready for branded content for some time. After all, sponsorship models drove television in the early days. She notes ad agencies, however, have been slow to come around. But, attitudes are changing in all quarters. ‘It’s the whole notion of impartiality,’ says Knight. ‘Of hoodwinking the consumer. We need to get past that and realize consumers are damn savvy, and people shouldn’t be quite so paranoid about it.’
While the BCMA currently has outlets in London, New York and L.A., and will soon be in Australia and Germany, its location in the Palais says the most about the future of the industry – it’s right beside U.K. broadcaster C4, in the heart of production country.