To Capture Attention, Make (Bold) Entertainment

To win today, brands need to break free from traditional advertising barriers and speak the language of modern culture, says Krishnamurthy

In today’s digital era, consumers are constantly bombarded with content from creators and brands alike. With so much competition for attention, it’s become necessary for brands to make their content bold and compelling if they want to stand out. Often, there is a gap between what audiences desire and what brands produce. To reach consumers today, brands must make content that is genuinely entertaining, not just another boring ad.

Brands that lean into non-traditional approaches make attention-grabbing content with cultural relevance stand the test of time. For example, in the U.S., Milk Processor Education Program ('MilkPEP) and GALE took a bold, entertainment-first approach to marketing to stake their claim in the U.S. milk wars as the only ‘real’ milk. As part of the campaign, a fictional alt-milk brand, Wood Milk, was invented, with a famous co-founder, actress Aubrey Plaza. They developed a humor-led digital-first spot that sparked a nationwide cultural debate about what counts as real milk. Milk continued this edgy and entertaining approach by creating 'Milk PSA', another digital-first campaign in which Queen Latifah humorously encouraged people to stop shaming those who opt to drink dairy milk. In both instances, the team prioritised being really funny, not just ad funny, to create something memorable that drove real business results.

Today, powerful content that incorporates true entertainment that is culturally relevant is replacing traditional advertising. Even when taking a data and insights-led approach, marketers can create compelling content that actually moves people and continually optimise to captivate audiences. Here are a few ways you can accomplish this.

Shift Your Approach To Production

As brands and agencies evolve in the type of content they create, they must also evolve how they create it. Gone are the days of developing a script in a silo, then handing it off, completely locked, to producers to simply execute. To create something memorable, agency and brand teams should collaborate with talent and production teams, allowing for evolving concepts that are on-strategy yet actually innovative, funny, tear-jerking, or otherwise moving.

Compete With Creators, Not Other Brands

Creator-led content, especially on social media platforms that allow for endless scrolling, is capturing the attention of GenZ and other generations alike. It’s where so many are spending their time, swiping past ads and overtly branded content. Instead of looking to other brands as competition for content, look to those that are actually winning the attention of those audiences: the creators. Brands must break through the overwhelming options available from genuinely entertaining creators, and make content that instantly makes an impact.

Embrace The New Branded Entertainment

With all the competing options out there, brands need to make people care about what they have to say. They should embrace this tension and allow it to challenge them to create more compelling narratives. You can’t do that by simply buying a traditional product placement, which today feels forced. Branded entertainment has become something more – it’s content that is authentic, honest and substantive, rather than superficial details. Marketers should bring creative storytelling to all relevant platforms to create an authentic brand experience.

To win today, brands need to break free from traditional advertising barriers and speak the language of modern culture. This does not mean brands have to relinquish their purpose and value; rather they should have more fun, take some risks, and hold their brand content to higher standards when it comes to creating true entertainment.

(The author is Sanjay Krishnamurthy, President, GALE India)

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