NEW YORK: Advertisers including Ford, Hasbro and Rovio are all attempting to utilise innovative forms of branded content as a means of enhancing their connections with consumers.
Ford, the automaker, has partnered with NBC on "Escape Routes", a reality series where six teams travel across America and take part in different competitions and challenges.
Featuring Ford's Escape model, the first installment of the season attracted major advertisers like McDonald's, Procter & Gamble, General Electric and Kraft, all of which ran spots during breaks.
Crystal Worthem, Ford's brand content and alliances manager, told Brandchannel: "They've bought into the fact that it's not a Ford infomercial but a legitimate show from a credible production company. You saw the same kinds of advertisers you'd see in any other primetime evening show."
Hasbro Studios, the entertainment division of the toy manufacturer, is using co-produced material in China, such as via DoPei Le Doh, promoting Play-Doh and made with Toonmax, a unit of the Shanghai Media Group.
It has previously developed a show called Family Game Night, based on a range of its games, for The Hub in the US. This format has since been adapted for the Spanish market, airing under the name Boing, and a variant is planned for China.
Stephen Davis, president of Hasbro Studios, said: "Unlike a lot of other territories in the world, both from a creative as well as from a regulatory perspective, the most impactful content that's getting on in primetime is local Chinese content."
Elsewhere, Rovio is making 52 weekly animated clips linked to its popular video game Angry Birds, and has signed a deal with Samsung to host an app on its web-connected TVs. A related film is scheduled for release in 2013 or 2013.
"It's about telling more engaging stories... and deeper thoughts, deeper feelings of the characters, such as why are they always angry?" Nick Dorra, Rovio's head of animation, said. "We want to be on all screens."
Red Bull, the energy drink, has been a pioneer in the area of branded content, establishing its own production house – Red Bull Media – in 2007, delivering material like The Red Bulletin magazine and snowboarding film "The Art of Flight".
Coca-Cola, the soft drinks group, is also now filming one documentary about Joel "Knucklehead" Turman, a dancer affiliated with Coke Zero, and another with musicians Katy B and Mark Ronson, who are writing an "anthem" for the Olympics in London.
"I am looking at whether or not certain – not all – production capabilities can be brought in-house to enable us to be confident we can explore all aspects of long-form dynamic storytelling," said Jonathan Mildenhall, Coca-Cola's VP, global advertising strategy and creative excellence.
Data sourced from brandchannelChicago Tribune/C21;; additional content by Warc staff