Brands must 'sweat the idea much harder' when it comes to branded content, says Cake CEO

Branded content must be braver and bolder in order to cut through, with cinema offering brands an opportunity to create immersive experiences, according to a panel of industry experts.

Speaking on a session exploring the role branded content can play in inspiring film at Advertising Week Europe, Adrian Pettett, chief executive of Cake, said brands must work harder than previously to make content stand out.

"You have to sweat the idea much much harder. Eight or nine years ago it was 'build it and they will come', with clients closing their eyes and hoping it works. There's never been a greater need for boldness and disruption. Ultimately it's about brilliant ideas, now more than ever."

Discussing brand film collaborations such as The Lego Movie, Pettett added that the strength lies in partnerships, and that branded content can inspire film and vice versa.

"The whole thing becomes self perpetuating. A kid will still read the Harry Potter books but it lives beyond that."

Steve Jamison, founder of production company Archer's Mark, said that as content is now easier to create and consume, brands now have the same challenge as filmmakers.

"It's easy to create and consume and therefore it's harder to break through, so the main objective should be how to cut through and make people laugh or make them cry. For us as filmmakers, it's how you break through that noise of so much stuff out there - and it's exactly the same on the feature film side as on the content side."

Jamison also discussed the opportunity brands have to move into the immersive space.

"People want immersion - things like Secret Cinema prove that. When you go to see a Pixar movie, you expect a short at the start - there's an opportunity for brands to come into that space."

Pettett compared the short at the start of a film as boarding an airplane at the start of your holiday.

"There was always a B-movie in the olden days. I used to love the Orange ads, Bacardi ads and Malibu ads. It's all part of it really, as much as getting on an airplane is part of your holiday, so there's an opportunity for brands there.

Discussing the marriage of 'magic and maths' which is essential to the success of branded content, Pettett said that the two depend on each other. As broadcast is just one channel for content today, brands and agencies can have greater control of that content.

"The good thing is that we can have more control of the content, we can curate it more in a way that suits us as opposed to who's trying to get the 10pm slot on Channel 4. The problem is that it's easy to get it into the market and our human brains can't handle too much of it. People need two things - magic and maths.

"I think those two bedfellows need each other - it's about how best to use them together. I would argue that great ideas always win, but with the maths it's got a much better chance of success, and one shouldn't get in the way of the other."

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