I completed work with a local production company for some Canadian Tire branded content that had us shooting in a few cities across central and western Canada. The ‘Canvas Collection’ video series by Canadian Tire showcases internet influencers and TV personalities who provide tips, tricks and other inspirational ideas for home decorating over the Holidays using Canadian Tire product. The interesting thing about this project was how much it reminded me of working on make-over shows that aired on the Home and Garden Network some ten to fifteen years ago. Total deja Vu. The difference this time out is the content is much briefer, it’s broadcasted on Youtube and paid for entirely by the brand, hence the term, ‘branded content’. Talk about cutting out the middle-man.
What goes around eventually comes around.
Back in the day, Home and Garden TV once commissioned thousands of hours of DIY programming called ‘Lifestyle’ television that focused primarily on DIY decorating and make-over shows. After some time, the world moved on and lifestyle fell from public favour. What happened next was the fastidious produced lifestyle shows evolved into the monster we love to hate; Reality TV. What I find incredibly fascinating though, is seeing this same DIY content reincarnated in the advertising world. The big difference is TV personalities are being supplanted by internet ‘Influencers’ who have arguably larger followings on their social media channels and advertisers are super keen to tap it.
The question is will branded DIY lifestyle content eventually follow the same evolutionary path toward Reality TV? The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, it is a growing trend that I have been a part of. But the ad world obviously doesn’t refer to it as ‘Reality TV’, they have a much catchier phrase. They’ve coined it ‘Experiential Marketing’. Wikipedia defines this as “a form of marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages consumers to participate in the evolution of the brand. Consumer Engagement is the ultimate point in which a brand and a consumer connect in order to offer a true experience related to the brand’s core values.” That’s quite a mouthful and it’s interesting because there is a fringe benefit to this form of video advertising. I think ‘Experiential Marketing’ is to Brands as Reality TV is to Broadcasters…it’s much cheaper to produce! Compared to a broadcast commercial, experiential marketing costs are chump change, albeit 10X the cost on a per minute basis of many traditional reality TV shows.
So where do we go from here? For the foreseeable future I predict advertisers and digital agencies will follow the heavily trodden path of the reality TV show, en masse. On one level, experiential marketing is the new frontier for digital agencies who have only just begun to scratch its surface. Real content that engages people in meaningful ways is a perfect fit for our social media landscape. For production companies and cinematographers, it means trimming the waistline. A smaller, lighter, more scrappy production machine. The big and bulky production approach will always have its seat at the table, like grandfather did, but it will be the domain of top-tier commercial production.