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TVsionary podcast Ep 1 : Brands and entertainment, an increasingly intimate relationship

Word from the content industry: The content industry by those who make it.

TVsionary is the only podcast where leading players from the global entertainment content industry freely share their thoughts and insights on the current and future state of this fascinating sector. In every episode, we discuss a specific subject with 3 or 4 industry experts. As such, TVsionary is the go-to podcast for entertainment content professionals, conceived and produced by MIP Markets.

Episode 01 : Brands as new players

Brands and other entertainment industry outsiders are playing an increasing role in the field of content production. How is that likely to affect the industry?

Brands have been involved in the production of entertainment content in one way or another for a very long time. But in today’s world, with its ever more sophisticated marketing techniques and digital tools, the lines are getting blurred. As brands look for new ways to reach out to customers, creating compelling branded content is more relevant than ever.

To understand what this means for the entertainment industry, we asked three leading industry executives to share their point of view and talk about their experience with branded entertainment:

- Diego Ibañez, Chief Brand Officer at DeA Planeta Entertainment, a Barcelona-based content producer and distributor.

- Lasse Nikkari, Executive Producer for TV formats and Branded content at Sanoma, one of Finland’s largest media companies

- Scott Greenberg, the CEO of animation production company Bento Box and the head of Blockchain Creative Labs, Fox Entertainment’s division dedicated to the creation of NFT experiences.

Rising knowledge

The purpose of branded entertainment hasn’t changed. It’s there to create new ways to grab the attention of viewers and get a brand’s core messages and values across to them through storytelling. This was already the case with the first soap operas in the 1950s; though the objective today remains the same, the methods have evolved. “We are seeing more quality productions”, says Lasse Nikkari. “The broadcasters’ and the brands’ knowledge is increasing as we have more and more examples of how brands should be written into the content. For example, in order to make a quality branded entertainment show, the brand’s exposure and role need to be subtle so they don’t dilute the content.”

Despite this, the growing implication of brands in the production of entertainment content over recent year has been cause for debate. Can a show or film retain the same quality and freedom of expression when a sponsor is involved? For Scott Greenberg, the question is moot. “I don’t think we should knock brands for getting into this space, as long as they do it the right way,” he says. “Audiences are pretty smart and sophisticated: if the show is good, it’s good, if it’s not, it’s not. It doesn’t really matter where it comes from.” 

A competitive advantage

That being said, is there a limit to a brand’s presence in a piece of entertainment content? How do you weave it in smartly so that audiences don’t find it too invasive or clumsy? It’s all a matter of pairing the brand and the show adequately, explains Lasse Nikkari. “I truly believe that certain types content and formats are better when done with a suitable brand. For us, branded entertainment is a great advantage, because it enables us to better serve our local audience. We all know how strong the competition is between traditional broadcasters and global streamers: we have placed branded entertainment at the core of our content strategy to gain a competitive advantage.”

Furthermore, for Diego Ibañez, the development of branded content is part of a positive evolution towards increased consumer awareness: it enables brands to convey what they are. “I think we are buying better, more informed, and content remains key to establish an emotional relation with customers,” he sums up. “As a brand, it’s great that you can communicate what your values are, educate people about your product, even promote social consciousness.” He adds that in any case, like it or not, branded content isn’t going anywhere. “We have to take the positive aspects and adapt to it.”

The disappearance of boundaries between screens and people

Going back to the origins, the financial aspect is of course the main reason behind the invention of branded entertainment: brands hoped to sell more, and broadcasters found a new source of revenue. The deal was simple.

Today, the objectives remain the same, but the market has grown much more complex, with digitization changing the landscape in this field like in so many others. Some believe that the rise of new digital spaces and practices – think Web3 and the Metaverse – is opening up opportunities that the entertainment industry simply cannot pass up. “I think we are living a moment similar to the 2000s, when everything changed with the arrival of the Internet,” says Diego Ibañez. “With Web3, our digital and physical lives become simultaneous, and that’s very important for brands, because people can now buy products contextually. There is no more boundary between screens and people, it’s all happening at the same time, and that creates a completely different setup for content production and for brands.”