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DS15 day five highlights: The BBC’s digital programming evolution, ITV and Telefonica talk tech-inspired content and Rapha on why rebrands are ‘utter nonsense’

As the curtains draw to a close on Digital Shoreditch 2015 The Drum, in partnership with Ogilvy, takes you on a whistle stop tour of the highlights of the fifth and final day at the festival.

BBC

The BBC’s digital creative director Will Saunders detailed the broadcaster’s online programming plan during his session on the Digital Shoreditch stage, a strategy that includes the new Taster platform, which Saunders described as “editorial R&D”.

Launched in January, Taster was built as part of the BBC’s Connected Studio innovation programmes and houses experimental content ideas that audiences can test and rate before they are fully realised.

Taster was created in response to changes in audience consumption habits which Saunders called a “perfect storm” to invest in digital content, and pointed to the impending move of BBC Three from TV to online.

Despite an assault of online content reaching audiences in today’s landscape, Saunders said the BBC “still has edge” but was transparent about the challenges of fighting for penetration.

“One of the reasons we are now threatened is that we are all fighting for the currency of attention,” he said. “If what we do now doesn’t compare with a cow being photobombed by a horse in a field we might be in trouble.”

ITV and Telefonica

ITV and Telefonica led a rallying cry for the broadcast industry to create more tech-inspired content in mainstream programming, with ITV Studios exec VP global development and formats Mike Beale revealing that the company is “definitely looking” at how it can take tech “in all its forms” and turn it into content.

Beale said that ITV has been inspired to hire digital product managers within its programming development teams to create a link between the tech and broadcast industries and advise on what digital products would be most suitable to obtain maximum commercial value.

As an example of what tech-inspired programming could look like Beal pointed to TV show Game of Thrones which he said could just as easily been spurred by World of War Craft as the books.

However, Beale warned that the quality of the content is still king and tech can’t be tacked onto programming as an afterthought. “For me it’s not trying to force tech into something for the sake of doing it,” he said. “Tech is an inspiration point now for new ideas, whether a new piece of facial recognition software or a piece of physical kit to use when we are shooting.

“The content has got to drive the story there has to be a programme that you want to sit down and want to watch.”

Speaking about the broadcasting industry’s attitude to technology in a broad sense Beale said that it “terrifies” broadcasters who, for example, voiced fears around the emergence of live streaming apps such as Periscope and the knock-on effect of their content being showed around globe via an external medium.

Also speaking on the panel was Shivvy Jervis, head of digital at Telefonica, and host of YouTube series Digital Futures, who said that broadcaster are not doing enough to include tech, whether as content or a delivery mechanism in their programming.

“There is so much gripping content from the tech world that would translate beautifully on the TV but no one is bloody doing it,” she said.

Offering advice to the tech industry around approaching broadcasters with ideas Jervis said no-one should “think their idea is crap” and urged the industry to collaborate and start a dialogue.

Rapha

A brand is more than simply a set of communications, it's instead the entire culture of a business, according to Luke Scheybeler, co-founder of cycling sportswear brand Rapha.

Discussing brand building through products and the importance of culture in organisations, Scheybeler appeared on a panel alongside Jason Hartley, chief strategy officer, The Partners, Karmarama's Lawrence Weber, and Emily Hare of Contagious.

The term 'rebrand' is "utter nonsense", argued Scheybeler, who blamed design agencies for perpetuating a simplistic view of branding.

"Your brand is your entire culture and the fundamental reason we do everything; it's not just a set of communications. When people talk about rebrands it's just utter nonsense - they're saying they want to change their entire culture and products. Agencies and design consultancies have sold this simplistic view."

Rapha has built its brand by focusing on understanding both external culture around cycling and its own culture as a business, and defining the products around that, said Scheybeler.

If a brand has lost its sense of purpose, agencies need to help them 'excavate' it to build on, said Lawrence Weber, managing partner of innovation at Karmarama.

"Brands that have been around for 100 years may have been formed with a purpose, but it's been lost, so you need to excavate the purpose. You are in trouble as a brand if we [agencies] come in as archaeologists and spend weeks digging for the reason you exist."

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