Does The Future Belong To The Content Pioneers?

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You’d be forgiven for thinking a talk by an agency called The Brooklyn Brothers about BP Castrol may be a guise for a hipster episode of Top Gear. Thankfully Chris Evan’s is nowhere to be seen. Instead, this panel is hosted by Jackie Stevenson, Founding Partner and Global MD at The Brooklyn Brothers, joined by her colleague George Bryant, Founding Partner and ECD, as well as Vivek Rampal Global Marketing Director at BP Castrol and Alex Jenkins, Editor of Contagious. The four are gathered to debate what the future holds for content pioneers.

The discussion kicks off by watching the Castrol Titanium Trial video. A project between The Brooklyn Brothers and BP Castrol. It’s a bit like Fast and The Furious meets Daft Punk. The perfect pick me up for a Monday afternoon. This video is the diving off point for the afternoon’s debate.

It would be all too easy to sit on stage and blow hot air talking about the fast cars, cool VR and special effects in the video but as Bryant says, “ it’s not just about content and fun stuff.” From the word go the panel are keen to drive home (all puns intended), the importance of blending traditional with digital. Bryant says that “one of the mistakes people make is they think modern content is about modern metrics.” He goes on to discuss how in this project with Castrol they chose to act in a modern way but hold it to account in a traditional way. For example not just counting earned media but looking at Millward Brown and brand checking to see the wider business impact.

So what makes a great piece of content? Bryant urges the audience to think distribution first and not to over complicate it. He offers the advice that you should think of the headline you want to achieve before you get going on the brief. This topic sparks a friendly conflict between the ideas of client and agency. Rampal talks about the importance of getting the brand seen in the first five seconds of your video before you lose the attention of the audience. Rampal, understandably thinks brand first, whilst Bryant is more focused on keeping things entertaining. The solution the pair agree on is to “ be branded but be entertaining,” an ambitious task.

What’s particularly interesting about Bryant’s way of thinking is the emphasis he puts on entertainment. “We’ve got to get smarter in how we adopt the creative strategy. At Brooklyn Brothers, we use a ‘writers room’ mentality. It can take an agency a year to create a three-minute video, but there are people out there creating 10 episode mini-series in two-three months. If you want to fight for a share of entertainment, you have to learn how to do it.”

This quick turnaround and entertainment mentality will prove vital in the future when the proliferation of video content threatens to become one of the industries biggest challenges. Jenkin’s offers a word of advice on this, “storytelling. There is a reason stories resonate with people, they teach us something about life. In future, when more people are creating this kind of content, brands will struggle to find the emotional resonance not just selling a brand.”

However, it isn’t all about coming up with a great story to tug consumers heart strings. Bryant also stresses the importance of knowing the money side of things as critical for an agency. Creating content is not crossing your fingers, it’s being accountable for what you expect and knowing how much it is worth. Sitting side by side agency, client and media agree resoundingly on one thing, you must be as diligent about proving results as you are creating the content.

What advice would the panel give for those wanting to pioneer in content? “You have to make many mistakes, but make them mindfully,” says Rampal. He says that taking these leaps and being innovative is great, but you have to know your consumer and the media before making these choices. Bryant also mentions the importance of finding good talent and what he looks for in an employee, “when finding talent age is not a determination of behaviour, its attitude. You want people who are obsessed by culture as that’s our battleground.”

With all that in mind, the discussion closes on what does Jenkin’s, a man who’s seen his fair share of branded content, predicts will be the traits of future pioneers in content.

“They will be fast and explore new platforms. There is definitely value in the novelty factor and being the first to do something. They must have an adaptive mindset and remember that the only constant is change.”

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