Like many media folks – or the lucky ones – I just made it back to London from MIPTV in Cannes, in the wake of the Icelandic volcano crisis. Hopefully by the time you read this, it’ll be resolved and everyone will have made it home!
For the first time at MIP I think, the agenda, the featured speakers and the mood of the delegates came together to really embrace and engage with “what comes next”.
Talk of digital was everywhere, and the digitally-led “Content 360” element of the conference was both heavily attended and much-discussed. Interesting also to see not only Ogilvy – to my mind still one of the great agencies – supporting MIP for the fourth year running, but also clients from Coke and Nestle both in attendance, and actively participating in keynotes, workshops and branded content sessions. Finally an important corner is being turned, and we saw this at MIP 2010.
Entertainment, of course, has always looked dangerously simple from the outside. Listen to Scott Fitzgerald – one of Hollywood’s tragic casualties – writing in The Last Tycoon:
“You can take Hollywood for granted like I did, or you can dismiss it with the contempt we reserve for what we don’t understand. It can be understood, too but only dimly and in flashes. Not half a dozen men have ever been able to keep the whole equation of pictures in their heads.”
But today there’s another Whole Equation (or perhaps a significantly extended version of the established one) that we in entertainment must engage with, analyse and solve, if we are to unlock the new value, models and revenue streams that are demanded by the profound cultural flux that processing power and connectedness bestowed on our generation.
It’s an equation with the new consumer – totally connected, empowered and full of high expectation – at its heart. And, just like the traditional Hollywood model, it looks at first sight deceptively simple.
I advise divisions of substantial media players such as Fremantle, SyCo, Sky and Sony ATV, and “across the bridge”, brand advertiser clients such as Diageo (currently the world’s largest spirits company), Telefonica (the giant Spanish telco group) and Bacardi Global Brands. Most of my work is with senior executives who are asking themselves of this new consumer, just as Butch and Sundance did as they were pursued across America by their righteous and relentless persecutors … “Who ARE those guys?”
If you believe, like most do, that there’s a troubling shift on the content side in terms of new models, walk a mile in the shoes of a global CMO. The tried and true models of advertising investment and return are just not hitting the button the way they used to.
It’s my job to help “These Guys” understand “Those Guys” … To get to grips with the new consumer, and find convincing, sustainable, repeatable ways of moving marketing investment into not just reaching eyeballs with brand messaging, but getting over the wall, to seize and retain the quality attention of this prickly beast and its equally challenging – and apparently limitless – tribes of globally-connected fellows.
What concerns me about any post-digital media and entertainment innovation initiative that – without hesitation – puts Content at the heart of the equation is that … well, it’s not as simple as that anymore. We’re finding on the brand side that consumer-centric thinking – and this starts with a lot of smart online listening and analysis – is beginning to yield the effective, impactful and measurable impacts in the badlands of social media, content strategies and mobile, that the faltering steps of traditional advertising now demands.
This is not to say that great entertainment providers should be quaking in their boots in the face of Facebook and Twitter. There are those who argue that, but not me. Superb movies, TV and music speak – and earn – for themselves. But my point is both more blunt and more subtle.
Brands are still spending all in about $650bn per year on reaching “Those Guys”. Many of the giant advertisers are currently – rightly I believe – obsessed with moving significant spend into what’s called engagement marketing. Much of the flurry around the subject of so-called Branded Content derives from this trend. An awful lot of brand spend is heading this way.
The big movie and TV studios do one thing marvellously well. You call it entertaining audiences. Brands call it consumer engagement.
If we’re going to make the 360 thing – which means different things to different people – really work, we need to bring these two highly diverse groups together in the same meaningful discussion. The brand on one side and the content on the other, naturally have enormous roles to play. But at the centre of the circle – the equation if you like – sits neither of these. 180 + 180 does not in this case equal 360.
It’s the new consumer. Hi there!