It's a “new age” of content and integrated works: Foxtel and MCN

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 15 July 2015

There has been a run to integrated and branded content plays from the traditional landscape as advertising margins squeeze with the evolution of digital. But Foxtel senior group manager, advertising and brand partnerships, Damian Cleary, said the reason for the hype is because integrated “clearly works.”

Cleary was speaking to AdNews in the lead up to the 2015 ASTRA Industry Excellence Awards in which Foxtel's branded partnership with Defence Force Recruiting, a TV show called The Recruit, is a finalist.

The reality football entertainment show pits undiscovered AFL players in challenges to receive the opportunity to win a contract with an AFL club. Season one of the show also included integrated advertising for The Royal Military College which was aiming to promote the academy to new recruits.

Cleary said that Defence Force Recruit had spent considerable effort promoting the Royal Military College in traditional channels, but turned to branded content to build awareness.

“We as a broadcaster essentially adopt a role as a strategy agency and it's very much a true partnership in the sense that you have a broadcaster, a media agency and the clients working together,” Cleary said.

“It's the way forward given the fact that most people fast forward and skip ads these days, so embedding a brand message within content is key for marketers and really creates cut through.

“It's definitely the new age and it clearly works for a client.”

As a result, Defence Force Recruiting achieved the highest conversion in its history, with 97% of its full year 2014 target.

Cleary said that the success of branded content has meant it is now receiving briefs specifically on creating it. It is also currently starting work on season two of The Recruit, noting the interest shown by brands so far is “quite remarkable.”

“It's not every day that you get the opportunity for a marketer to stand and give out brand objectives within a piece of content,” Cleary said.

“From a brand perspective the benefits are extraordinary.”

MCN is the other finalist in the awards with three of its campaigns Subaru and River Cottage Australia, Holden Learner Driver and Dynamo Refresh Your Club.

MCN national director of Multiply integration and content partnerships Elizabeth Minogue, said key to any branded partnership, and the reason why these campaigns in particular were so successful is relevance.

Minogue said MCN is “platform agnostic” and looks at brand and audience first as opposed to the content.

“We've captured the right audience and we’ve made the content contextually relevant,” Minogue said.

“That's the thing with branded content, the brands have to make sense for the content so that you’re not force fitting them into it and it makes sense for the consumer.”

Minogue said with the Holden Learner Driver campaign, MCN worked with Carat Connect and Channel V to promote Holden SUV model Trax to a young audience in a way that wasn't heavy handed.

The result was Channel V's first branded content series which saw presenter Marty Smiley, who was yet to get his driver licence, be taken for driving lessons by musicians in a Holden Trax.

“We really looked at what is their brand challenge, who is the audience they are speaking to and then what platform to reach them on, along with what content do we need to deliver for them,” Minogue said.

“For us, it's all about creating content that can live across platform: paid, earned and owned assets.”

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