?”The Great British Bake Off” and why it works

10 years in, “The Great British Bake Off” can teach us something both on content marketing and on successful television properties.

In this post, I want to outline how “The Great British Bake Off” has consistently been a successful television property, but also, by ricochet, show you how media group Quartz dives deep on multiple subjects with its “Quartz Obsession” series, which happened to cover the show’s 10-season history.

The Quartz article digs into the history of the show, how it evolved, but also has great insights into what makes it so popular.

What stands out is how although this is a reality TV show in the most traditional sense, it is a competition that revolves around a very positive atmosphere. Contestants help each other, grab a bite together and seem to fundamentally want everyone to succeed.

This is feel-good content at its best.

Also, throughout its 10 seasons, not that much has changed. And that consistency has allowed the show to retain an audience of raving fans, while also facilitating introduction for new viewers to discover a popular series through the latest episodes, but also letting them binge heavily through a recent partnership with Netflix.

At Toast, we are always on the lookout for the fresh new formats and popular shows that are broadcast here and abroad, but we also take great care in analyzing what has made long-running properties so successful.

And we also apply this thinking when trying to figure out what type of content would work best for one brand or another. In this case, we see how positivity, helpfulness, camaraderie and consistency are key elements of what can make a branded entertainment series work.

Now it is your turn. Dive, deep, into “The Great British Bake Off” and ask yourself: What can I learn from how this successful format is built?

And in the meantime, see how Quartz’s Obsession series is structured and how fun they make these deep dives into so many different subjects.

Interesting in exploring branded entertainment opportunities for your brand let us know and schedule a consultation with our experts at Toast today.

Facebook and YouTube’s mysterious interest in old TV series and films

In the past year, YouTube and Facebook have obtained the rights to distribute old movies and TV series. Here’s why.

The subject is relevant to both those in the media industry and those on the content marketing side of the fence.

Do you remember YouTube Red (circa 2015), now known as YouTube Premium? Have you spent time in the Facebook Watch tab since its launch?

Well, if the answers are no to any of these questions, you are not alone and the two giants are currently trying different tactics to attract their users to these platforms and for which they want to promote original series and feature films (à-la-Netflix).

One of these tactics is to obtain the rights of old popular properties that are not currently available elsewhere (Prime, Netflix, Apple, etc.).

Think Rocky, Terminator, Legally Blonde, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.

The idea? Attract audiences with these properties in order to “push” original productions after they’ve watched an episode or a film (much like the major American broadcasters do to build awareness for a new series).

Simon Owens wrote an excellent article on the subject, taking the analysis a little further and giving different details on the current situation for Facebook Watch and YouTube Premium.

I will let you read it and explore what might be relevant in this for the specific context of your brand.

To combat Facebook’s algorithm, brands can turn to TV

What if television broadcasters’ audiences could be a solution to Facebook algorithm’s changes?

So at this point in time, I guess you’ve all had that internal meeting about how you would deal with all those changes Facebook has announced for its algorithm.

ListenFrist recently released its State of Social TV report, which analyzes how social media users engage with television broadcasters’ social properties.

It tracks engagement across multiple social networks, while also analyzing what types of content generate the most engagement (oh and by the way, Google+ still isn’t doing so well).

The solution? There is no recipe to generate engagement and listening to your audience remains by far the best way.

What the report outlines is that brands that partnered with TV broadcasters saw a great increase in overall engagement compared to posts published on their own social properties. This means that there is true value in branded content as partnership between a broadcaster and a brand.

My 2 favourite takeaways from the report (also from the article):

  • TV social branded content is highly effective: Social branded content published by TV pages outperformed non-branded content by an average 42% in 2017, and generated 9x more engagement than what an advertiser generated on its own page.
  • Decline in Facebook organic reach does not mean less people see content from media properties: While Facebook organic reach declined by 40% in 2017, the number of people who saw a TV post organically declined by only 13%, meaning TV posts reached audiences beyond a TV page’s fan base.

I invite you to read MarTechSeries’ article on the subject, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you would like to discuss this further.

A New Era of Brand Storytelling with Netflix

Traditionally, brands have taken a cue from entertainment and applied it to its own storytelling. Are we about to see another chapter of this?

Netflix has just released a new type of series that pretty much only them can do, as they are not intimately tied to cable or traditional television formats.

Puss in Book” is leveraging not only the popular character, but also integrating interactive storytelling elements to it, much like what we had in the 80s with the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books.

Why do this? Everyone can be pretty much certain that such an interaction between story and viewer will create deeper engagement, and that is something that will make brand marketers look up and see if they can also leverage this.

Interactive storytelling is not new, but seeing Netflix trying it out is very interesting on multiple levels.

Chris Wren from Branding Strategy Insider wrote a very interesting piece about the series and its implications for brands. It dives into the logic behind it, but also ethics about screen time and artificial intelligence.


How to produce branded films

“A 2016 study by Nielsen revealed that high-quality branded content is far more effective in terms of brand recall and lift than advertising.”

How many branded films have you watched in the past few months? By branded films I mean high-production value content, longer form (let’s say over 5 minutes), that has either that documentary or feature-film feel to it.

Not that many, heh?

Well, there are many that are being released every month but not many end up in your inbox or in one of your feeds.

This is because either the distribution was not thought out properly, or the content and script itself didn’t resonate with the audience. And if it didn’t resonate, it can often be because many of them just feel like longer ads.

PRWeek published a great article on the criteria of success of brand films and what can really make (or kill) a production.

Here is what Manuel Sattig, head of brand strategy and communications at BMW of North America, had to say about their approach to brand films:

“Don’t put your usual brand umbrella over a project like this. When you start briefing directors, script writers, and even actors very specifically about your brand values and how you want everything to be perceived, you’re really moving away from branded content. You’ll just end up with a longer TV spot that you designed by yourself.”

And he added:

“As a brand, you have to get away from the usual rules in terms of what your product has to look like, how it can be treated, and how it can be displaced, if you really want to create authentic branded content.”

Paul Trillo, an award-winning director that has recently worked with Olympus, mentioned the importance of brands being able to “get weird”, not play safe. This is key in creating a viewing experience your audience will remember:

“To some degree, brand films that go viral aren’t safe; there has to be something kind of new, unexpected, and even bizarre about it.”

And then there is the question of the brand’s place in the end result. How front-and-center should it be, how should its products be featured? In the end, the production’s goal is to be able to create a brand recall between the film (the experience) and the brand. So how should we do it?

Well, this can vary a lot. And I think P.J. Pereira, chief creative officer and cofounder of Periera & O’Dell, says it well:

“For a brand film to be successful, the audience needs to feel that this is a legitimate and honest attempt to entertain or inform. Because if you overplay your hand as a brand, you kill the content and people start to say, ‘This is just an ad.’”

And this is where, at Toast, we believe that your branded content production should not be put directly in the hands of your advertising agency. So many variables differ from the traditional production process of advertising that different creatives and producers are required to create the experience your brand deserves.

So until you give us a call (why not today?), I will let you read this great article over at PRWeek.

Facebook is coming to your television

Facebook is going all-in with video in 2017.

Last night, it was the first time a production from a streaming producer (Amazon in this case) was nominated for an Oscar.

And it won’t be the last.

Facebook is the next group who is making a big push for television and video entertainment. 2017 will be the year of video for them, and longer video at that.

They want you to spend even more time on the platform and are building products that will allow publishers to easily produce and monetize long video content. Tools like midroll ads, ad breaks and such will allow publishers to get an incentive into producing longer form content that engages and retains audiences.

This is what’s coming in 2017 for them (at least what we know now):

  • An Amazon TV and Apple TV app
  • Original content (now this could be interesting!)
  • Midroll ads
  • Ad breaks
  • Better video recommendations

With all this in the pipeline, we’re pretty sure to be seeing a lot of changes in our newsfeed in the coming months. To read more about it, I suggest you read the Digiday article that dives deeper into the opportunities for buyers into all these projects.

Advertising and youth content

In Quebec and other regions of the world, youth content is an expense, not a source of revenue pour broadcasters. If not considering the cultural value it creates, it is content that is produced at a loss.

And what if we took the time to talk about it?

Some of the sites that 6-12 years-old visit the most are YouTube, Disney, Lego (especially 8 to 12 year-old boys) and many others that are attached either to a brand, or include advertising strategies.

ToastStudio-Communique_Eve_Tessier-Bouchard” We need to live like it’s 2016, where our kids are bombarded with advertising on the internet… Can we find a way to loosen this 36 year-old law, but set clear guidelines to limit abuse while helping youth Quebec television series survive?” asks Ève Tessier-Bouchard, vice-president television at Toast. “Quebec is the only Canadian province and one of few territories worldwide to have such a law. Are all the other kids around the world traumatized by advertising? Do we, collectively, wish we can keep offering them quality television shows produced here in Quebec? If so, we have to find solutions to help fund these series.”

If young children in Quebec watch local television shows, they will also adapt themselves and discover the Quebec star system. They will know local broadcasters even more. We are building tomorrow’s consumers of local content and culture.

Sounding the alarm about youth content

The subject was first covered in LaPresse+.

Hugo Pilon-Larose met with Ève Tessier-Bouchard, Marie-Claude Beauchamp (producer at Carpe Diem) and Cécile Bellemare (former director of youth programming at Radio-Canada and former director of program development at Télé-Québec) as they are sounding the alarm, with a real risk that youth television could eventually disappear if new legislation isn’t passed in Quebec. (The entire article, in French, is available here.)



Loosening the law, but with clear guidelines and limits

On October 20th, Ève was interviewed by Michel C. Auger, on the airwaves of Radio-Canada’s Midi Info radio show. (You can hear the integral interview, in French, here.)



The competition is on a global scale

From an industrial standpoint, measures that are too rigid cause a real problem in a very competitive market because today, in 2016, the world opens itself up to our kids. Our content is in direct competition with those coming from all around the world.


Netflix to spend 6$ billion on programming and content

Is this the year where we will see a decline?

Sometimes you just come across news you hadn’t seen, through your Facebook feed. This is what happened when I saw Micho Marquis-Rose’s (from Attraction Images) post about Netflix’s planned spend on content for 2016.

Six billion dollars.

You read that right.

It seems only ESPN spends more on programming each year.

This news came out earlier this year, but I hadn’t seen it and when I read this over the week-end, I thought this is something definitely worth sharing for a Monday morning.

But this is not making everyone happy, as some traditional TV execs are starting to wonder if there isn’t too much TV being produced. To which Netflix replies, and I love this:

“We don’t think there’s too much TV. And if there is too much TV, someone else is going to have to slow down, because we have big plans for 2016 and beyond.”

The article is short, and it’s the type of article you read in one minute and then think about for a couple days. How is your brand, how is your media, how are you adapting to such content powerhouses? If you’d like to discuss this, don’t hesitate and email us, we’re never too far.

Saturday Night Live to cut 30% of ad time

SNL cutting two commercial breaks and creating branding opportunities in its content.

The show is preparing to enter its 42nd season. Clearly an IP that has demonstrated it can reinvent and adapt itself throughout all those years.

This year, part of this renewal will be done through a 30% cut of ad time, replacing it with content. In that wake, NBC will offer marketers the possibility to produce content to be integrated into SNL, but only 6 times a year.

There is currently a joint effort by the TV industry to make the viewing experience more pleasant to viewers by reducing interruptions and integrating brand messaging into the content.

It is directly in this trend that Toast acts as a television producer. How can we, in a concerted effort with broadcasters, improve the experience for consumers?

AdWeek sums up the situation very well in an article where they discuss with Lorne Michaels, executive producer of SNL, and Linda Yaccarino of NBC Universal.

Is the future of television narrow-casting?

Brands and broadcasters are trying to find smaller, more targeted ways to reach audiences, while getting them to also pay.

Television is changing.

Media and advertising are changing.

When in the past, you could build a brand or an intellectual property that would reach millions, it gets harder every year to do so. With media fragmentation and an ever-changing platform landscape, brands and broadcasters are turning to niche markets to try and get the best return as possible on their investment.

And a new term has been coined for it: narrow-casting (opposed to broadcasting).

In the Fortune article I am recommending you read this week, Mathew Ingram talks about NBCUniversal’s attempt at narrow-casting with their new venture, Seeso.

At 3,99$/month, Seeso is aimed at an audience that likes comedy. The offer focuses on that genre, with a couple original shows, but mostly archived shows such as Kids In The Hall and Monty Python.

Is this the new reality of broadcasters trying to deal with unbundling? (people being able to choose exactly which channels they want)

Is this also the new reality of brands that see the value of mass advertising diminish?

I invite you to spend some time reading Mathew Ingram’s article. Once again, time well spent if you want to learn more about the reality of niche markets and how some broadcasters are taking a wack at it.