The Branding Invasion
Like it or not, branded content has wiggled its grubby little fingies into our daily internet watching habits. Popular brands have had their fair share of success leaning on popular influencers and streamers, like Pewdiepie, to promote their products. Online audiences can be notoriously difficult to reach! But, they usually come stocked with young, impressionable millennials. Young, impressionable millennials with access to that sweet, sweet disposable income. Branded content done properly can be an effective way to assimilate a product into the lifestyle and buying habits of a hyper-specific audience and lead to massive dividends. Done poorly, however, branded content can feel pandering and money hungry.
Keys to Success
The key to reaching an online community with branded content is simple. Speak to your audience with respect. Hock your wares all you want, but make an effort to ensure that your collaboration with a beloved content creator bolsters the quality of the work. Don't sacrifice quality in favor of promoting the product. Brands can successfully and organically integrate their content into the creator’s normal programming, often without interrupting the audience's viewing habits. The audience shouldn’t feel as though they had to give up an episode of their show. Rather, they should feel they've received an extra-unique piece of content that would be impossible to create without the help of the sponsor.
Doing It Right
Recently, popular Youtube content creator Rocketjump released “Anime Crimes Division”. He mixed this three-part parody of police procedurals with barrels of anime references and inside jokes. The series, sponsored by anime streaming titan Crunchyroll, knocks it out of the park on multiple levels.
The series comes across as wholly self-aware. Each tongue in cheek reference is begging to be punctuated with a knowing wink. The fans that understand them celebrate Rocketjump, and the creators of the content they love. Crunchyroll and Rocketjump were laser-focused and dead set on nailing this audience. Their inclusion of notable faces within those communities, like former Vine star ProZD, and “Command Zone” podcast hosts Jimmy Wong and Josh Li Kwai show that. Top that off with the DIY feel and polish that garnered the Rocketjump its cult following? You have a series that successfully promotes Crunchyroll’s product by celebrating the fandom around anime itself.
Here’s to hoping the success of this series serves as an example to other brands. If you want to speak to an online audience, then you have to be willing to get your hands dirty.