By peter katz, February 20th, 2010

Here’s my interview on branded content with Creative Director Tim Roper from award winning advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. We met Jan 23rd at UCLA Media & Entertainment Week.

What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions about branded content?
The biggest misconception is how easy it is to conceive it in a fresh way and then how willing people are to consume it when it’s not fresh. Even though great branded content is a great thing, it’s extremely rare and certainly not something consumers are actively demanding.

How do you effectively balance the responsibilities of creating content that competes with the entertainment quality of popular culture, while at the same getting consumers to buy more stuff?
That’s the key: If you think about the bar for ad content as being all the funniest, most poignant, most compelling and entertaining stuff that the rest of pop culture is cranking out, then you’re going to inevitably shoot higher. Few companies are doing that. As for consumers, it’s all about truth, really. Whether they realize it or not, audiences look for truth in things. In music, film, television….They want to relate to things. So when they can recognize a kernel of truth in ANY content with an entertaining wrapper, they embrace it. So, start with the truth, set the bar high and you’ll achieve that balance you’re talking about. Hopefully.

You don’t need to name names, but what are your thoughts on mistakes people make as they try to create branded content?
You need to know going in that branded content projects involve a longer, more arduous road between conception and distribution. The brand’s commitment is so disproportionately immense that you just can’t expect to churn out these kinds of projects with great regularity. The rise and collapse of a lot of exclusively Branded Entertainment shops in the last few years is proof of that. Personally, I think that branded entertainment projects aren’t worth the time unless it’s a very natural fit for the brand and the content is just as irresistible as my favorite non-branded content out there right now. Honestly, I only have so many hours in the day and personal bandwidth. I don’t have the time or energy to consume a Coke Movie or a Walmart Music video a McDonald’s webgame unless it’s able to go toe-to-toe with all my other favorite stuff out there. And I’m IN the business.

What is your favorite example of using transmedia marketing?
The “Why so serious?” campaign for The Dark Knight recently was pretty cool.

Once most homes have Internet enabled TVs how will this convergence be worked into your strategy?
It already is..in the sense that we think that video is video. No matter where it originates from, you go at it with the same objective in mind: make everything as interactive as possible, even television-in the very basic sense that content should work hard to compel people to do, say, think or feel something. When a piece of content does that, it is, in effect, “interactive”. Now, obviously with internet-enabled TV you’ll be doing a lot more than passively watching the big box. So, you can start considering a much more rich interactive experience there, I guess. Maybe now we’ll bring back some of the crazy ideas we had 2-3 years ago that our developers told us were nuts for the average laptop, who knows?

In a couple years will more entertainment be branded content?
I imagine so. But, if it is, I sure hope people push as hard on making the content actually entertaining as they do on dreaming up the vehicles or pitching the increased spend. Because for every BMW films or overtly “green” 30 Rock episode, there’s a dozen silly, contrived videos about mayonnaise or BBQ sauce or head-scratching web labyrinths for some car company that just aren’t begging to be engaged with.

What is your favorite viral video, TV show, and movie of 2010?
Ha..well, it’s pretty early in the year, actually. Sort of reminds me of those movie ads where they flash those critic blurbs saying “Best movie of the year!” for a movie that comes out in January or February. I think I gotta get back to you on this one.

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peter katz is an award winning filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Peter has produced genre films that have screened all over the world from the AFI Fest to the Rome Film Festival. His first picture Home Sick starred Bill Moseley from The Devil's Rejects and Tom Towles from Henry Portrait Of A Serial Killer. Next Peter worked with Tobe Hooper (director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist) on Mortuary, which premiered on the Sci Fi Channel. Most recently he was a producer on Pop Skull, a psychological ghost film, that has received great reviews in Variety and numerous film web sites. Currently, Peter is developing projects across various mediums including film, comics, and the web.

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