It’s been nearly six months since the branded-entertainment website, honeyshed.com, was announced at Microsoft’s annual client summit in Seattle. The idea is bold, a destination site which provides all branded content all the time. The evangelists of the concept are thinking big. In a quote published in a May 9, 2007 article in Businessweek, Andrew Essex, CEO of Droga5 says Honeyshed is:
“MTV meets QVC. There’s a lot of so-called branded content out there, but it doesn’t have many places to live. It gets lost on YouTube or it’s like bud.tv, a brand in isolation. In contrast, this is totally transparent and completely entertaining. It’s overt advertising based on the idea that people love brands. They just don’t necessarily love it when brands interrupt or deceive them. This will make brands the life of the party rather than the uninvited guest.”
The site has quietly launched and is still in the beta phases, but there are skeptics of the belief that consumers will “eat up” this new branded content. Tim Leberecht on CNet’s News.com wrote an article which was posted yesterday entitled, “Is honeyshed the end of the future of online advertising?” Now that’s a serious question! Leberecht goes on to point out that “one Sprite spot may be hilarious, but would you really want to have a regular feed of Sprite videos?”
At Pandemic Labs, we think the primary elements that will effect the relative success and/or failure of experiments like honeyshed are not the marketing elements, but the entertainment components of the various campaigns. There seems to be a lot of focus on “radical transperency,” “conversational marketing capabilities” and “direct e-commerce” but those are the things that the marketing agencies and their clients care about. The viewers, the consumers, the potential clients–whatever you want to label them–will be most effected if they are entertained. Even with this new internet marketing outlet, the old maxim still holds true: “content is king.”
So what’s our answer to Leberecht’s question we quoted above? Would we really want to have a regular feed of Sprite videos? If the quality and entertainment value of the content is high enough then we believe that serial branded entertainment has a great potential to capture and engage a large audience of loyal and potential consumers. The real question facing a site like honeyshed is whether or not there are enough content creators out there who can successfully blend advertising with entertainment. Lean too far towards an ad and you might lose a large portion of potential viewers, but lean too far toward entertainment and you risk not sending your client’s message at all. At Pandemic Labs we understand the paramount importance of the creative. Our primary focus in these so-called “brandvertising” campaigns is the high level of entertainment and engagement. Let’s face it, if branded entertainment doesn’t entertain then the brand doesn’t matter at all.
As always, we highly encourage comments on and discussion of this article. If you have something to say or a question to ask and you don’t want to do so in this public forum, please email us.