Ideas worth spreading

If you have a spare 20 minutes this week I whole heartedly recommend that you sit down and enjoy Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk on how schools are killing creativity. It’s a captivating watch, especially for those in the creative industries.

Now I’ve got to admit that I’m somewhat of a new comer to TED, but after only a couple of videos I’m hooked. Brilliantly informative and wonderfully eclectic, it’s refreshing that the art of intelligent, passionate and well articulated argument is still being celebrated. I think that a large part of its appeal is that it offers something truly valuable. In the humdrum of everyday life, you have to filter out so much media content, whether it’s someone’s inane tweet about what they’ve had for lunch or some moron on This is Essex, when you find something that strikes a chord you tend to grab it with both hands.

Vice’s  is another great example of a website that cuts through the crap with great content. Aimed at an altogether different audience to TED, it offers a vast selection of short, “educational” documentaries all with a very distinct Vice-esque slant, covering everything from gorilla conservation in Uganda to a travel guide to the warlord plagued Liberia.

What’s interesting about such online-only content is how brands have begun to incorporate it into its marketing campaigns. Foster’s is one of the most recent, high profile brands to have seen the value of this approach with its hilarious and specially commissioned ‘Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge’ series.

Is this the future of marketing? In social media people often talk about ‘value exchange’ but perhaps marketers should also be considering it  when they think about ‘traditional’ advertising media. This concept of value exchange or giving consumers something they want, when they want it, has underpinned the success of mobile apps. Value is, of course, hard to quantify unlike sales, but I would argue that well thought out, specially created and branded content can do more to boost consumer goodwill than a 20 second ad slot during Corrie.

In creating such exclusive contents, brands essentially become their own media owners. With many press titles seeing their circulations plummet, many have turned to their websites to try and engage their audience with interactive and dynamic content. So in this respect, in the future the line between media owners and branded content could become increasingly blurred. Indeed, this trend might not only affect brands and media owners, but the role of marketing and advertising agencies could soon start to shift. Will the integrated agency of the future need a fully functioning production house? Will brands take the role of TV channels and start commissioning whole new series of online TV programmes?  With the advent of product placement will all commercial TV programming be advertising?


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