The Best Ads are Not Ads

Welcome to the world of
branded entertainment 

An overwhelming truth that marketers are refusing to confront today is the fact that no one likes advertisements. Many brands choose to turn a blind eye to this fact and continue plodding on, using archaic strategies, trying in vain to capture their audience’s attention.

Even the brands that recognise that the age of traditional advertising is coming to an end are having trouble engaging their consumers. In an age of ad-blockers and ad-free streaming apps, consumers are rapidly finding new ways to distance themselves from advertisements, which they view as unwelcome disruptions. Meanwhile, even though many brands recognise the value of new mediums, they are at a loss for how to advertise on them, and resort to outdated methods of advertising dependent on a captive audience (these are the brands that rely solely on non-skippable ads on YouTube and pop-up ads everywhere else). This is called the ‘push’ model of advertising.

But let’s be honest – no one enjoys being forced to watch a 30 second long ad before they are able to access the content they were actually trying to watch. And thanks to the comments sections on every digital platform, brands are now made acutely aware of how much audiences dislike being forced to watch anything they don’t want to. This leaves marketers with a challenge – how do they create content that builds their brand as well as engages their audiences?
The most valuable asset for any brand to have is attention. Successfully capturing audience attention leads to brand saliency, which means that whenever audiences think about your product category, your brand is the first name they think of. If you can capture your audience’s attention, you already have an advantage over your competitors, regardless of whose product is better.

When the number of available mediums were limited, capturing audience attention was relatively easy to acquire. The same is no longer true. In addition to this, digital audiences are smart, and are immediately put off by any content that looks like it is selling something. However, just because audiences do not like ads, this does not mean that they are averse to branded content. For example, our short film ‘Rizwan’, created for Paper Boat, was widely acclaimed and received a massive positive response from viewers. Similarly, our Republic Day
tribute created for 1mg spread so quickly that NDTV covered it. What did these campaigns have in common? They were entertaining. They were also created by brands. Therefore, they were branded entertainment.

Branded entertainment is based on principles completely contrary to conventional advertising. It is grounded in the ‘pull’ model of advertising, designed to appeal to audiences in a way that makes them actively want to consume a brand’s content (as opposed to being forced to do so).

At the end of the day, audiences will watch content that interests them. Building a brand is a much more subtle and strategic art than simply pushing a product or service into consumers’ faces. The right communication strategy is the difference between a mere product/service
company and a brand.