Media Shops Try New Tricks in Branded Content

It’s a brave new world for media agencies. Shops that traditionally focused on planning and buying media increasingly are creating branded content to reach consumers across a complex landscape of digital and traditional channels.

Take, for example, Zero Dot, a new six-person unit of Starcom MediaVest Group that’s led by Jonathan Hoffman. The group creates quick turnaround content such as video and events for the likes of Procter & Gamble’s Gain detergent and Beam’s Basil Hayden’s bourbon. P&G’s Cheer also is a client.

“The work and the ideas belong to the clients, and frankly—without sounding like a Pollyanna—everybody has something to offer in that mixture,” said Hoffman, a former Campbell Mithun creative chief who joined Starcom in 2011.

Zero Dot represents one of myriad ways that media shops are jostling with their creative brethren to create new types of content in an ever-shifting marketplace. And like creative shops, media agencies are using a mix of in-house units and new outside players, including Wochit and Bungalow Horizon.

“The reason why you’re seeing all these guys pop up and become the next big thing is because every brand out there has now adopted content as part of their marketing strategy,” said Doug Scott, president of OgilvyEntertainment and former North American chairman of the Branded Content Marketing Association. Marketers are “looking to capture lightning in a bottle.”

Below are some new ways media shops hope to achieve that Holy Grail.