Finding the right balance between what the audience wants while staying relevant to a brand's mission is essential to creating meaningful moments in today's social marketing landscape. We chatted with Sarah Leccacorvi, Head of Content and Creative, at Havas Entertainment and Joint Head of JUMP, about this balance and utilizing content to authentically add value to people’s lives.
Content is the bridge between you and your audience. How do you anticipate and then integrate the right topics for your audience while maintaining a consistent brand voice?
Since the democratization of content creation, it’s even harder for brands to show up and fit in, let alone stand out and get noticed. For me, it’s about adding value to people’s lives and creating meaningful moments in culture, by identifying what synergy lies between what the audiences truly care about and what the brand’s purpose is. Thereafter, it’s about taking it from a singular thought or idea and manifesting it into a business program that has longevity, drives action, ideally with investment behind it. And as with any brand communication, the brand personality needs to run throughout. So, it’s less about logos, but more about the elements that make up the brand’s voice and attitude and embedding it into the content.
What role does branding play in content marketing?
A lot less than you think, but enough that the CFO needs to be on board! Content should always be focused on the relevant subject matter first and foremost; be that a passion point or a cultural connection. This enables it to get the attention required, do the job intended and make it financially viable. That said, branding can drive credibility and add value - from Nike’s app to help you to run faster to John Lewis knowing more about washing machines than your mum. Tutorials, expert opinions, and even tech enhancements add value, and this is where branding has a place. It’s the stamp of authority provided by a brand. But it doesn’t have to be just about advice. Our work on O2’s Travel Fan In Japan is a great example of content built to entertain. Ahead of the RWC 2019, we produced a six-part series that explored Japanese rugby culture. Having been sponsors of the England Rugby Team for over 25 years, O2 is well versed in all things rugby. Here, the O2 brand was present on the rugby shirts, its natural habitat, enabling the content to remain focused on rugby.
Not everything can be advertised the same way, which can require a different approach across clients. How does content affect the way something is marketed and how do you pivot to treat this?
The great thing about content is the freedom it offers. Where advertising is bound by a list of mandatories to ensure the promo lands, quickly and succinctly, content can look at things differently. And with content having never been so limitless, with possibilities ranging from building communities to creating immersive experiences IRL and IVL, there are endless creative opportunities to solve business problems. At JUMP, we run ‘heaven and hell’ sessions to explore territories with clients and see how far we can push the creative envelope and look at solutions through different lenses.
As part of Havas Media Group, we’re fortunate to understand how to harness the most meaningful media. Knowing how to make content live and breathe in a connected media system integrates it more seamlessly into consumers’ lives. So, it’s about showing up and behaving natively in places consumers are hanging out. Being hyper-relevant, responding to trends and popping up at the right moment will all drive deeper engagement for your content.
Without giving away your secrets, what are some things that are integral to your internal checklist when creating content?
Here are the top three from our checklist:
Firstly, knowing how the impact of the content is going to be measured. This feels cart before horse, but there is method in my madness. Questioning what the results should be compels brands to be more focused on what they want and what they are hoping to achieve. From there, we can begin to map out clear objectives, KPIs and subsequent metrics and benchmarks.
Secondly, understanding the human truth. Uncovering cultural tensions and nuances in the most unusual places is paramount to identifying the strategy and creative direction. Insight-led ideas enable content to go deeper than surface level communication, allowing you to tap into conversations communities are having and become part of the narrative.
Finally, creativity. Even in the most uninspiring of briefs, creativity enables brands to shine. Identifying novel ways to connect with an audience helps a brand stand out. And this might mean pushing boundaries, creating a category-first or, in some cases, being provocative. Love it or hate it, I can’t help but admire the fearless campaign on Wall Street. It’s a fresh way to do something different. We worked with the BBC on I May Destroy You, seeing us use content to elevate complex topics of sexual consent in an original way. This won a Gold at the Campaign Media Awards.
How do you strategize for the way audiences will want to interact with content in virtual realities, Web 3.0, and the metaverse? To what extent do you involve influencers and consumers in creating the brand narrative?
With people spending an average 4.8 hours a day of their time on devices, the way they interact with content IRL is not too dissimilar to they the way they engage IVL. As mentioned earlier, it’s about adding value and thinking long-tail. It’s essential to find ways to authentically add value to people’s lives. For many, the metaverse is a place of discovery, self-exploration and self-expression, extending their reality into a new world without pre-determined biases. Enhancing their experiences IVL will reap rewards, but simply mimicking IRL strategies will undoubtedly fail. It’s a combination of both that will make the difference. And as mentioned, knowing how the platforms operate and working alongside them as they evolve will be essential in forming the strategy.
Furthermore, with the creator economy having exploded during lockdown, the power has shifted from brands to people. Therefore, it is essential to lean into creators, makers and influencers. These people will help you tap into markets where brands are yet to find a presence, as well as keeping you honest when understanding those cultural shift and emerging trends.