Branding News South Africa

New brand content agency for digital media

A new brand content agency for digital media, Twisted Toast: Digital Media Architects, has been launched by Kim Browne (CEO) and Louis Eksteen (MD), previously at UCM, publishers of FHM and heat. They are joined by Jian Reis (chief digital officer) and Erik Verster (creative director) as co-founders.
New brand content agency for digital media

Browne explains her and Eksteen's departure as COO and CEO from UCM (UpperCase Media), "Media24 Magazines restructured its business to consolidate all 100% owned, but previously separately managed subsidiary businesses, into a new five-division structure. For us this meant our brands were to be managed by the group directly. heat was moved into the same operating stable as Huisgenoot and You at its weeklies, while FHM was placed with Kick-Off and others in developing markets. We saw this restructuring as an opportunity to start a new business in the digital media world via the creation of a unique new brand content agency.

"The new agency assists brands to create own brand content. This content in turn provides the oil (stories) that turns the social media wheel. We use a variety of social media, applications, traditional media such as video production and, when required, print media to collectively tell a brand's story in a professional manner. It's our field of expertise to assist brands to create content strategies and then, most importantly, to execute these strategies effectively so that deeper brand fan engagement is the result."

Similar to how brands use external advertising agencies to assist them with the creation of commercials, brands can rely on this agency to support them with brand content creation and execution. It can help brands recognise content creation opportunities, create the actual content in a brand context and then execute and deliver the created content across the brand's own content platforms, including social media.

Following US trend

Browne says this trend is now a fully fledged part of brand content marketing communication in the US, where similar agencies already exist. "Traditional publishers in the US, such as Hearst and Meredith, have been buying brand content agency hot shops in order to enhance what they as traditional media owners can offer brand marketers."

With media consumption and brand communication changing drastically during the last decade, Eksteen believes the agency will now finally be able to offer brands a content solution to effectively communicate with desired target markets. "The internet is increasingly being used to access dedicated, specifically functional programmes commonly known as apps, especially via mobile connected devices. Coupled with this trend, is the dramatic increase in importance of the social web. Facebook and Twitter have become so crucial that many Internet users (mostly via mobile devices) are experiencing their own customised access to the social web as their entry point to the Internet itself. As a direct result of a combination of these two important trends, a significant new marketing communication trend has developed," he says.

Communicating with brand fans

"This overarching trend is the increasing realisation by brand owners that, in a digitally connected mobile media world, all brands are content brands. This means brand fans expect immediate and relevant communication and content created between themselves and brands, in real time, typically via media content accessible through connected mobile devices. This involves the professional use of the app Internet and social web by brand communicators.

"The agency's services complement traditional marketing communication activities such as advertising, publicity, activation and sponsorship. Brand content marketing via digitally accessible platforms is a new category of marketing communication that enhances brand engagement via own brand media. Effectively executed brand content marketing strategies can enhance real time marketing through direct engagement of brand fans.

"We've developed a tool called the Twisted Toast Brand Content Continuum that assists us in determining which services we offer are best suited to which client. We use this tool to match client needs with services.

"All our tools are cloud based, which means it runs off the internet, so we can work from anywhere where access to the internet is available."

Telling engaging stories

"The most frequent question is 'but what is it exactly that you do?' Saying we help brands with social media activation is the easiest way to explain what we do now. Then, as the marketing community at large becomes more exposed to brand content creation over time, it will become easier for the industry to understand. As media creation experts, as well as marketing professionals, we're combining marketing and media content to enhance brand engagement, through brand content marketing in real time. We help brands tell their own stories, on their own platforms, in an engaging way."

New twist to celebrity stories

"If these stories are told in an interesting way, without hard sell, and are easily accessible via digitally connected media devices such as smart phones and tablets, fans of the brand are entertained and informed within a brand context.

"Imagine that a brand brings a big-name celebrity to South Africa to assist them with a new product launch. Without its own brand content strategy and execution methodology, this local brand will probably be pitching interviews and events with the celebrity to external media to generate publicity. These external media will likely not care too much about the brand as they are far more interested in the celebrity. If the local brand executed its own brand content strategy alongside that of the external mainstream media, they would have been able to control first and exclusive access to the celebrity themselves, across their own platforms, and then they could have involved external media in a planned manner.

"So for example, when the celebrity arrives at OR Tambo, instead of all the external media getting first exclusive access, the brand could conduct its own professional first interview and seed it across its pre-organised own media - including social media platforms and others. All of this will then take place within the brand's own context and brand fans will know that, to find out the first and best information about the celebrity's visit, they should utilise the brand's own content platforms. Coupled with traditional marketing efforts such as competitions, point of sale, advertising and event activations, brand content thus enhances the experience for fans and leads to closer engagement," he says.

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