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How to make brand communication interesting

November 30, 2006

Jeffre of OIA’s brilliant film has got everyone talking and quite rightly so, it poses a really good question about the difference between interest and entertainment.

When developing TV communication, the typical yardstick is, can they create generate an emotional response- will people laugh, cry, scream or emote as a consequence of seeing something they have created?

If so, tick the box, because we have success on our hands. We’ve performed the advertising equivalent of medieval alchemy; we’ve created entertainment.

Jeffre is suggesting this is not good enough.

Brands need to do better than this to be interesting.

So let’s start by asking the question what is it that makes things interesting?

It’s often a series of things that work together, it demands a truly unique idea that you have never seen before that provokes a reaction in the form of a series of questions.

How clever, how did they do that?

I want to see it again

I want to see that again

What are they going to do next?

I want to hang out with that brand

I like they way they are talking

I like them

They are like me

I should tell x about this

What else are they going to do?

That’s pretty much the model for the best TV advertising, this is the stuff that wins the industry accolades, it usually ticks all the boxes above and can be considered interesting for all those reasons.

It’s the best we can do in our limited format of 30 or 60 seconds.

When we expand our range and look at what else out there in the world of entertainment is interesting, it looks a little different. Take for example ABC’s Lost and LonelyGirl15, both pieces of content generated a lot of interest and had people coming back for more because they were interesting.

What is it that’s different about them from the conventional advertising narrative?

It can be broken down to time and characters.

Lost has dozens of 30 minute shows to bring characters and stories to life. Character histories, connections and misdirects are the ingredients that has made Lost interesting and allowed a community to be built around it.

Lonelygirl15 became interesting because people wanted to know her, discover if she was really and who were the people in her life that she kept talking about. She invited people into her world to play and imagine. Like Lost, it was a continuing conversation, not a one-off.

People participated because they were interested. The dialog was allowed to continue and the public was invited in.

So where does leave brands?

Brands can be interesting if they do great TV spots, but they can be really interesting if they find an idea that they can do something more and use media to make it happen.

We have yet to really see this happen. We are all looking at YouTube for the single breakthrough spot that makes it to the top of the charts- how did Bravia’s latest spot do?

Faris and Jason are onto something with Transmedia Planning, although conceived as a way to get beyond integration, with community building at its core, it’s more significant as it gives us a framework to make brands more interesting. It’s not about the same stuff everywhere, but story fragments seeded in different media spaces.

All we need is a different way to think about the ideas that go into this framework.

At BSSP we always talk with affection about Bary Levinson’s movie Diner, with the rich characters and their conversations, bemoaning the fact we can’t do this in TV ads because there simply isn’t the time.

Now we have it, what the hell are we going to do with it?

The ball is now back in our court, we have all the tools we need to make interestingness happen all we need is the conviction to get over the elaborate and expensive hump of the traditional TV spot.

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