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Theodor Arhio

With content taking centre stage in brand building, independent content creators and distributors are giving advertising agencies already struggling to make content, a run for their money. According to Global Director of Creative and Content at TBWA Theodor Arhio, the problem lies at the talent level.

“We need to start thinking about talent differently. Copywriters make horrible scriptwriters. We need to bring in people who are actually the content creators and entertainment creators,” Arhio told BuzzInContent.com in an interview on the sidelines of Cannes Lions 2018.

Agreeing that content creators are becoming a threat for agencies, Arhio said, “We can’t be lazy and assume that because we have this relationship with the brand, it is not automatically given that we will only create content for the brands. We have to earn it every day.”

Arhio disagreed that content marketing works better than branded content. Citing an example of Lego movie, he said that when done really good, you can even sell the content.

Excerpts:

These days, a lot of people are making long form digital ads in the name of digital content. How would you put it?

The function of ads is to make people buy things and content is more about the brand values and what you stand for. The problem with the long form ads is that they are really hard to watch. When you are doing content, you are not doing hard sell. It is more from the approach of doing it from the audience’s perspective. Whereas, advertising is usually done from the brand’s perspective. The content should be entertaining enough so that the viewer actually sees it instead of being pushed through paid medium.

You mentioned that branded content is more about creating brand value. So does that mean that branded content cannot help generate sales leads?

I think branded content can help generate sales. The most powerful thing it can do is to buy a priced premium. It builds brands and by building brand, you are willing to pay more. At the time of purchase, branded content will be at the back of the head and thinking why am I choosing this product and why am I paying more. It is because the content created for that brand is always at the back of the mind. The function of content should be more about brand building.

Do you think that advertising agencies cannot create good content in comparison to content platforms and creators? In fact, now, production houses are also getting into content creation. What is your view on this?

Advertising agencies are really struggling to make content. That is why we need to start thinking about talent differently. Copywriters make horrible scriptwriters. Copywriters should specialise into more and more ads. We need to bring in people who are actually content creators and entertainment creators. It’s just like you don’t put a copywriter on an internet developer’s job.

Do you see any kind of threat from content creators and production houses that specialise in creating content?

I see it already happening in the US market. In future, we will have to compete with the content creators. We will have to compete more with the brand’s internal agencies. We will have to compete more with the distributors.

We can’t be lazy and assume that because we have this relationship with the brand, it is not automatically given that we will only create content for the brands. We have to earn it every day. The competition is getting tougher but we are just trying to be better at our jobs.

A few marketers say that content marketing works better than branded content. How much do you agree with this?

I disagree. When done really good, you can even sell content. Toy companies have been doing this for over 40 years now. GI Joe action figures were turned into action movies. They realised that their marketing messages were so good that the people were willing to pay for that. If you are just trying to sell things to the people then you should not do content, you should do excellent advertising. If you want to build brand value, content pays you really well. When you do it really well like Lego movie. It has made millions of dollars at the box office. It is an hour and 45 minutes long ad. When done correctly, you can even sell your content.

Is the ideation and insight process for creating content same as ads?

I would say it’s different. Advertising is fast. The turnaround is about 2-3 months. Content development takes more time. That’s why you need a different kind of team to work on it. Also, from the finance perspective, you need to understand that it’s not as fast as advertising, but at the same time, it lasts long.

What is one major challenge in creating branded content?

Talent is really hard to find. You need hybrid people who understand both the advertising and the entertainment world. There aren’t enough people out there.

Tips for creating good branded content.

Always rely on the brand. Understand what your brand stands for and tell stories about that brand. The craft has to be on the power of brand value.