Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Content is king for big brands

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

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For Broadcast April 14, 2016

From Coke to Barbie, Mip TV was the place to be, says Kate Bulkley

I’ve walked down the Croisette at Mip TV for more years than I’d like to remember, but this time was a head-spinner.

It’s been a dizzying year of crossovers and crazy switchbacks, from linear channel BBC3 going online-only to Vice Media launching traditional broadcast channels (there’s 15 in the pipeline, including one on Sky) to YouTube adding a subscription service.

At Mip TV, Canal+ owner Vivendi announced a €25m (£20m) investment in premium mobile content aimed at mobile phone operators, not pay-TV platforms. But most striking was the growing presence of big brands. Thomas Cook, Universal Music, Lactalis, Turkish Airlines, Citroën, Bayer, Coca-Cola and others were talking to online platforms, including native digital operators such as Machinima, Maker Studios and Fullscreen, and traditional TV players that have moved into online, like Fremantle Media with Shotglass and Endemol Shine with Endemol Beyond.

Bigwigs on both sides of the matchmaking table think convergence is here big time. Maker Studios head of international Rene Rechtman declared that most viewers feel that time, place and device are now irrelevant; just give ’em great stuff, preferably searchable by brand or franchise so they stand out.

A good way to do that is to work with empathetic brands eager to get closer to consumers. Do young viewers care that Mattel is funding Barbie’s YouTube vlog? One million subscribers can’t be wrong, surely.

Named Mip TV’s ‘Brand of the Year’, Mattel has more than 65 iconic and franchiseable brands, from Barbie and Hot Wheels to Monster High and Thomas The Tank Engine. It bought Bob The Builder owner HIT Entertainment four years ago, But only six months ago did the toy-maker appoint its first chief content officer, Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, who comes from a traditional TV background.

Mattel is super-serious about squeezing revenue from content in new ways, on many platforms. Crucially, Balsam-Schwaber describes the Barbie vlog as “standalone content, not an extension of the toy”. Mattel is about selling toys, yes, but it realises that kids want to see these toys come alive and have personalities on a screen. Standalone content can become its own revenue stream.

Another big brand on show was Mondelez (formerly Kraft Foods), which is focusing on video content to supercharge e-commerce for brands like Oreo cookies and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Mondelez has been in the online content game a while now, using online influencers like Ricky Dillon as far back as 2014 to promote its Sour Patch Kids candy through a video series about the ups and downs of being a teenager.

Mondelez global head of content and media monetisation Laura Henderson says e-commerce revenues will reach 10% of the company’s total income by 2020 – potentially a $1bn slice of its business.

If Barbie, at the age of 57, can become an online video star, there is no turning back from the power and the deep pockets of brands looking to create audience-attracting, monetisable content. ­

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