Branded content. It’s a jungle.

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In 2001, advertising agency BBDO launched a series of online mini-movies called “The Hire” . The films showcased the latest BMW cars and were viewed over 11 million times in four months. The Hire caused a flurry of interest in branded content and the production of branded entertainment. Fast-forward to 2009, where marketers are doing an about-face and clinging on to the traditional forms of advertising because they know exactly what they are getting with a TV buy. In hard times, tried-and-true measures trump taking a risk on the untamed world of the Internet. YouTube spawned numerous viral videos for big brands that were seen by millions. But, who was watching? And did it move the needle for sales? Being able to target and track audiences online is like herding wild water buffalo. According to a recent Adweek article, “an oversupply of content for what is now a trickle of advertising dollars, the recession, a lack of metrics and a fragmented market” means that branded content has taken a back seat for most marketers. But branded content isn”™t a new idea. Remember “Mutual of Omaha”™s Wild Kingdom” ? Mutual of Omaha was a good example of how a brand could create content that had nothing to do what they were known for; insurance. But it worked. And perhaps, if the stars align just right, it will work again.

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