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‘Don’t be the annoying brother on the sofa or you'll risk being slagged off' – ITV commercial director Simon Daglish on branded content

Brands must avoid becoming the “annoying brother on the sofa” and earn a relevant place in consumer conversations when producing branded content or they may risk being "slagged off", according to ITV group commercial sales director Simon Daglish.

Speaking at a branded content panel session hosted by ITN productions in London this morning, Daglish said there were many brands producing poor quality, irrelevant content, and that they must recognise content requires a different approach from traditional advertising.

“Our best piece of advice is don’t be the annoying brother on the sofa, be part of the conversation,” he said. “If you’re going to get involved in a project or conversation, don’t try and say something different, try and be part of it.

“There was a tweet that went out during Britain’s Got Talent from an energy provider which said ‘Hey, who do you think is going to win this episode?’ – the energy provider had nothing whatsoever to do with Britain’s Got Talent and wasn’t part of the conversation, it was the annoying brother on the sofa and roundly got slagged off.

“Out there, there are brands producing content that has nothing whatsoever to do with consumers, it’s all about the brand. If you’re going to talk about something, make sure it’s relevant to the audience you’re talking to.”

Daglish, who spoke alongside YouTube’s Susan Agliata, O2 UK’s Will Kirkpatrick and TH_NK’s Ramzi Yakob, cited work from O2 and Comparethemarket.com as examples of branded content that connected well with audiences.

“O2 have stuck with music for 10 years, they’ve earned the right to be able to have that conversation with music lovers and we would say that to all clients that come to us – earn the right to be part of the conversation and then be part of it, don’t try to create a new one that sits alongside it.”

Comparethemarket’s Russian meerkat content campaign was a “wonderful” example of branded content storytelling, according to Daglish, and an example of how a “boring site” managed to take a view on the world and create a distinctive vision. The campaign also opened new doors for the brand.

“To give an example of that, Comparethemarket will now be the biggest importer of soft toys in the UK after Disney,” he said.

Daglish added that there was an element of risk and guesswork with any content, but that brands especially as content creators must take more care over strategy or risk an audience backlash.

“Brands have got to be really careful in this space that they know what they’re doing rather than doing it for the sake of it,” he said.