Branded content has come a long way since detergent manufacturers sponsored afternoon dramas on American television thereby creating that common place television term - the soap opera. From clumsy endorsements or product placements to brands being written into the script or even taking a bigger staring role, branded content has arrived.
The Good Doctor; one of the prize winners on the Reality show Airtel "Touching Lives" Ghana
A good case in point is the debonair swagger with which Daniel Craig pointed out to the gorgeous Vesper that he was in fact not wearing a Rolex but an Omega. In "Casino Royale" with the watch on his wrist Vesper Lynd asked James bond: "Beautiful watch. Rolex?" to which 007 replied: "No, Omega."
It's a short statement, but a big enough one. Brands like Apple, Nike, Puma, iPod and BlackBerry are at the forefront of driving a new era in branded entertainment.
And, Africa is not being left behind. Reality television is huge on the continent and is proving a perfect platform for branded content, except that in Africa the brands don't play bit parts. In many events they play a staring role, and with huge success.
The Launch Factory Content Division produces content that is not overtly commercial, but compelling programming that is successful because it speaks to the human condition, the hero archetype and the common need for ordinary people to be able to make a difference.
The branded content shows we produce are aired on national television and aim to transform the lives of ordinary citizens. The 13-episode series explores a range of issues including poverty, health, education and selfless service. The stories end by celebrating heroes who are changing communities and lives.
Here are some the lessons learned by Launch Factory while creating the branded entertainment series, together with some factors we believe contributed to the runaway success of our shows.
Community driven: The central concept is focused on community involvement. Ordinary people are given the opportunity to single out and financially reward remarkable citizens that make a difference to other people's lives. This creates a big drive in communities to discover local heroes that are caring for others and uplifting lives. The call to entry literally yields thousands upon thousands of stories of people who were making a difference to local communities.
Storied content: From the absolute thousands of entries, our research team sifts through content to see which contributions are the most worthy in terms of social appeal, brand fit and television content. What we look for are stories that are all self-contained, very emotional and place both the brand and the local hero as the stars of a heart warming story with a feel-good ending.
Brand values: Each of the stories that are told reward the consumers, who reflect the brands values which can include radiance (bringing joy, colour and richness to life); heart (living with courage and resolve); and belonging (bringing fellowship and community to all). Because the brand values are illustrated in human dramas with a happy ending and through the brand celebrating and rewarding local heroes, the branded content has huge local relevance.
Compelling human content: People are inspired, motivated and deeply touched by stories of other human beings who triumph against all odds. These are the stories that we seek to tell, the remarkable local narratives of people who refuse to give up.
One such story is that from the Airtel Touching Lives series we produce in Ghana. The story is of Dr. David Abdullai, a Tamale-based medical doctor who cares for people who are abandoned by society. The only survivor of eleven children born to a leper and beggar and one time a street boy, "The Good Doctor" as he is affectionately called, battled against all odds to make it through medical training and to qualify as a medical doctor. His life is now dedicated to serving the community with a free medical facility that is solely dedicated to serving society's outcasts, many of whom have physical deformities.
Socially uplifting content: Lastly what makes the difference is that it is not just branded entertainment, but that the brand makes significant financial investments to improve the lives of those featured in the series. By rewarding those local heroes, the brand in turn rewards the communities they served. Not just branded content, our shows made a positive and sustainable contribution to local development and social upliftment.
Launch Factory has been creating bespoke branded content in several countries for over 10 years. It has developed an award-winning formula that showcases the incredible work corporates undertake to uplift their communities.
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