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Interview: Chantal Rickards - MEC a GroupM and WPP Company

Bildschirmfoto 2014-01-28 um 12.27.13

Today we talk with Chantal Rickards (Head of Programming & Branded Content EMEA of MEC) about Branded Content in general, about the special characteristics of Branded Content in EMEA, about different integration types and about global media planning.

 1. While talking about "Branded Content" in a global context, we have often experienced that a lot of people have a different understanding of " Branded Content".

The term branded content is a catch-all phrase. We started with ‘corporate videos’ thirty years ago and now we have matured into a place where content marketing can utilise numerous forms of communication from apps to movies, from tv shows to events and in the digital world, other than transactional sites, everything utilises content in some form.

2. You are the expert of the economic area EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, Africa) at MEC. What are the different characteristics of "Branded Content" in these three areas? 

The types of Branded Content are growing rapidly. The Middle East was lagging a little behind in the digital and social arena but they have more than caught up recently. Storytelling in the Middle East is becoming more important and great examples of the use of fiction are numerous. I really liked MEC Middle East’s branded content short action films on behalf of the Land Rover Evoque called Classified made by Emirati filmmaker Ali Mostafa. Publicis in the Lebabon produced some fun films promoting Chateau Ksara last year which both use great story-telling. Europe is ahead in technology based content solutions and seem to have created interesting apps

3. What kind of entertainment products (video, TV, games etc) do the advertisers prefer in the Middle East and Africa? Is it similar to EU?

Key brands in the content area in the Middle East tend to be in FMCG especially food and drink, and in the Automotive sector. Telcos too are content enthusiasts.

4. Furthermore, a lot of people differentiate between individualized brand integrations (e.g. the Mc Donald farm in Farmville ) and standard solutions like online video ads in an entertainment context e.g.

mec interview

Which style is more promising for global campaigns in your opinion?

I like both. And they can both be used to great effect. Brand integrations if they are done well are very powerful. Online games are global by the nature of the medium and can achieve worldwide impact very quickly. Geo targeted online videos can be more useful when trying to get across complex messages for different markets. What works for some consumers definitely doesn’t work for all but gaming tends to be more universal.

5. Several discussions in the past lead us to the following assumption. Global media campaigns (e.g. in 20 countries) are mostly planned by one media agency (e.g. MEC). The operative execution of the global campaign is done by a lot regional agencies/marketers (e.g. 10 agencies/marketers). This is very cost intensive for the advertiser. Do you think that global standard video campaigns (e.g. in the entertainment area like games) are a tool for media planners to execute their own media plans and could save a lot of money for the advertiser? Could that be an advantage in competition for media planning agencies?

Planning global campaigns is hard and complex. Nuances from country to country have to be taken into consideration. Some global campaigns become too bland as producers try a ‘one size fits all’ approach which can end up with content that has little or no effect. Content done well understands that emotional engagement is key to getting audiences to view content, respond to it and to share it. Brands need to elicit an emotional response from consumers to create a deeper engagement. Wharton Business School says there is a strong relationship between ‘virality’ of content and emotion. People want to share experiences that arouse their emotions, and they feel compelled to share content that develops strong feelings like surprise or sadness. Content used on a global level should always try and use ‘universal truths’ at their core like love and hate, happiness and desire, strength and weakness, humor and pathos.

Thank you very much Chantal for this great interview.


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What are the differences (in terms of practice, law, importance marketing mix etc.) in Branded Entertainment in Germany, Brazil, Japan, India and Russia?