UK advertisers become content creators

10 September 2010

LONDON: Advertisers such as BT, Virgin Atlantic and Foster's are seeking to connect with UK consumers by creating engaging digital content.

BT, the telecoms group, allowed internet users to select the storyline for the latest iteration of its "Adam and Jane" TV ads, which have run since 2005 and follow the life of a young couple.

Some 1.6m votes were cast overall, and the company has also launched a dedicated microsite containing previous spots and a range of other information.

"Our most recent ad and associated content is central to BT's marketing plans, evolving our campaign from being broadcast-only to being an interactive campaign which the public can influence," David Still, BT retail head of consumer communications, told Marketing Week.

"As an open invitation, the ad naturally attracted its critics; but about 70% of responses were positive, reflecting people's willingness to engage with the BT campaign narrative."

On mobile, airline Virgin Atlantic has produced a number of applications - carrying titles including "Fly Without Fear", "Jet Lag Fighter" and "Flight Tracker" – to make travelling more enjoyable.

"Consumers are looking to engage with brands, and content is a key way for this to happen," said Anna Knowles, Virgin Atlantic's head of PR.

Lovefilm, the online movie rental service, also compiles news, reviews, images and video from a variety of sources, as well as delivering in-house editorial and enabling users to add comments.

It is now offering a news feed to IMDB, the popular film website, and the company believes such an expert standpoint is essential.

"I think that is really important because that is where you get a lot of your style and your positioning from," said Simon Morris, Lovefilm's chief marketing officer.

"We have earned a few million pounds in revenue, in addition to the subscription revenue, from creating the media environment."

At present, Lovefilm's website and YouTube channel receive 60m visitors each month, many of which live outside the UK.

"Our view on that is that it is just good for the brand," said Morris. "There is no harm in us getting our brand out there in different geographies and on different platforms."

Elsewhere, Foster's, the brewer, has allied with Naked Communications to generate original comedy material and gather together similar existing online footage.

"The aim of Foster's Funny is to aggregate and contribute to the British comedy scene," said Matt Jagger, creative partner at Naked.

"It will be updated weekly and contain content modules that will appeal to Foster's drinkers."

James Cashmore, entertainment industry leader at Google, the search giant and owner of video-sharing portal YouTube, suggested this trend was growing in significance.

"We are starting to see more and more [brands] using part of their media budgets to commission and create programmes and engage with brands through the likes of YouTube and Facebook," he said.

"Some of the KPIs are driven around how many 'likes' they are getting on Facebook. For YouTube it will be how many people subscribe to the channel, and how many people watch the video."

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff