Brand content is falling “massively short” of consumer expectations, according to Havas Group, failing to engage and achieve cut through in a crowded media environment.

The agency’s latest Meaningful Brands rankings again showed that brands are largely irrelevant in most consumers’ lives, as this found 77% of brands could disappear (up three points on the 2017 figure) and no-one would care.

But ‘meaningful’ brands – those seen as making the world a better place – are bucking this trend, Havas reported, gaining a greater share of wallet and scoring higher on purchase intent and advocacy.

And while 90% of consumers expect brands to provide content, the study said that more than half the content from leading brands is not meaningful to them, drowned out by content noise from multiple directions.

That includes too many ads or too many repetitions of the same ad and such “bombardment” was recently highlighted by the UK’s Advertising Association as a major irritation for consumers – and one that leads to more blocking and skipping by consumers.

The Meaningful Brands report suggested that brands urgently need to ramp up the effectiveness of their content, using this to engage with audiences through entertainment, events and other content-led activations.

Meaningful definitely delivers, it declared, citing a 72% correlation between content effectiveness and a brand’s impact on personal wellbeing. “The greater the impact on making us happier, the more meaningful a brand becomes – being meaningful is definitely good for business.”

WARC’s Effective Content Strategy Report, based on an analysis of shortlisted entries to the 208 WARC Awards, points to emotion and humour as particularly effective methods of engaging audiences,

“Creating emotion is what brands have to do today,” advised Lennie Stern of BETC Paris and one of the WARC Awards judges. “Make them laugh and you’ll encourage them to share new cultural references.”

As well as humour, the report identified three other themes around effective content strategy, including the need to scale up content if it is to reach its full potential, a requirement for content to create a point of difference and an ambition for content to engage new audiences.

Sourced from Havas Group; additional content by WARC staff