Branded Content

What is old is new again. Not that I was around in those days, but the old radio shows used sponsorship in ways we have never seen in our lifetime. Lucky Strike cigarettes and Lux Soap brought you the shows. They were endorsements and sponsorship marketing long before the term “sponsorship marketing” was coined. And they integrated products into the content of the shows. Oh, those were the days!

What goes around comes around. In today’s sponsorship marketing world, branded content is the king pin! Gone are the days of the “brought to you by” and 30-second commercial adjacent to the show on TV or feature on radio. Media outlets have finally come around to understanding that sponsorship is more than a tagline. It is integrating the sponsor into the theme, or more recently, into the content.

In my mind, the masters of this in the modern day world are the CBC. Sure Hockey Night in Canada (now that it is back) is the big breadwinner for CBC, but the masterminds in account management, client services and creative have added to the coffers. In the past several years, the CBC has truly utilized sponsorship marketing through branded content in shows. TD Bank was the first to be fully integrated into Being Erica, Little Mosque on the Prairie, and others. Then Ford got into the game, with Erica not only driving a Ford Fiesta, but endorsing it in scripted content. Congratulations to CBC in achieving sponsorship integration perfection.

As our industry is competitive, we see innovation and new opportunities. In 2012, Loblaw’s set a new bar. It created new “rules of engagement” for sponsorship and content marketing. With the launch of the TV series “Recipe to Riches,” Loblaw’s took a page from the Red Bull book of sponsorship rules. Why sponsor a property when you can own it? Recipes to Riches was a 60- minute reality TV show featuring Canadian home recipes in competition to be a President’s Choice (Loblaw brand) product carried in Loblaw stores—almost like a “Dragon’s Den” for recipes! Weekly winners received $25,000 and the final winner got their product in the store and $250,000. WOW! Thirteen 60-minute episodes, each promoting your store and product as a “sponsor” of the show to an average 640,000 viewers per week as reported by Marketing. To me, that is truly sponsorship integration at its best.

Our industry continues to evolve. The TV production side of the industry has truly embraced branded content as a sponsorship marketing channel. Social, mobile, and digital media continue to push the boundaries, mostly for sport sponsorship marketing. I look forward this year to seeing cutting edge innovation from education, municipalities, arts, and causes as our industry thrives.

These are just one person’s thoughts. Yours are welcomed as well. Please add your thoughts or comments below. Thank you for reading and your feedback.

Brent Barootes

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