To live in Portugal still is, sometimes, to be “last in line”. Despite all the universe of startups and the desire to see unicorns in our front yard, we still are eating yesterday’s bread on many topics. We have it all on the information front: Google, Amazon, Netflix (a Portuguese version of it, try the American catalog to see the difference), We can subscribe to Wired on the iPad, and do all of “what it takes” to be in that modern moment. But in most cases, we aren’t. We stay in the corner, too fearful to risk, too small to have a voice.
Of course, there are exceptions, but they are almost always in smaller projects that divide their actions between the national scene and the “outside world”. With the big brands, the norm is to agree on a certain strategy that depends on it already being widely used by other brands and, as a consequence, being safe. Of course, being safe also leads to it being commonplace for the same reason – it has already been widely used by other brands.
This is where you lose the opportunity to be different and spend money in the circus without being sure if the clowns made the audience laugh with the clowns. One assumes so.
Branded content is one such example. Advertising creates content (i.e. entertainment), which reaches the public in a way that is not that of traditional advertising, and then discretely promotes and drives the brand in the desired direction.
It has nothing to do with the idea of “product placement” that became famous in Portugal with the tv soaps. Instead of a can of coke “casually sitting on the table” in the corner of the screen it is seen all the time – the film revolves around a team of people who – by chance – work on the brand (coca cola) and it is part of the story. One of my favorite examples of branded entertainment is the “the power inside” series, where Intel and Toshiba present a web-series about aliens that take over humans by turning them into “mustached hipsters.” Pure entertainment, which seduces us like any other show, but it’s advertising (and we have to remind ourselves of it in the midst of Harvey Keitel’s incredible performance).
The theme makes us laugh and it’s okay, but most Portuguese brands perceive this approach as “not serious enough”. But if we think of the Mad Men series and the fictional agency of Sterling & Cooper with its not-fictional client Lucky Strike (in a time when tobacco advertising is worse than the Devil’s music at the time of Elvis) or if we look at Lego with its multiple animated tv series (Ninjago, is going to season 10 and was sold to TV networks worldwide) and read the reports that Lego increased its profits by 21% in 2015 alone, then, shouldn’t we be looking at it differently?