Good content integration is ‘not as difficult as you might think’, says Nine production boss

The key to successful brand integration in content is ensuring it logically fits the product benefits and the show benefits, Nine’s Head of Content Production and Development, Adrian Swift, says.

Speaking at Powered by Nine’s Big Ideas Store, Swift said good content integration is “where it makes sense, good is where it logically fits, and good is where the product benefits but also the show benefits”.

“That is not as difficult as you might think,” he declared. “With Lego Masters, it’s a show about small plastic bricks and creativity and imagination, and in the most abstract way that’s hard to integrate into. But the Wonder White partnership worked really well for us. To be in 10,000 supermarkets with our brand, we can’t even replicate that with our own promo campaign, so that was something that logically worked in our world but proselytised the show across our normal boundaries.”Kerri Elstub, Nine’s Editorial Director of Digital, believes you quickly get found out when you get the balance of content integration wrong.

“The audience knows,” she said. “Audiences are incredibly savvy – you have to have more than just a logo stuck on something. It needs to be content or storytelling that really connects with the audience, it needs to be something they relate to. If it’s not relatable, if it’s not something they can truly understand and connect with, it’s not going to work.”

Elstub said the first ingredient a media brand needs to successfully deliver content integration is editorial independence as that leads to trust.

“They need to trust you’re going to tell the whole story, and it’s that trust that allows you to do effective campaigns,” she said.

“I worked with Powered’s branded content team on a campaign we did for the Commonwealth Bank, where they wanted to start a conversation on financial abuse and how you can gain financial independence. I know they briefed around 10 different media companies and partners and ended up going with us and another company because we have that trust and that breadth of audience where we could speak to them across digital and print. We can start those conversations.

“Our audience trusts us to have those conversations. It’s for the good of everyone, it works for the audience, the brand and the format.”

Nine’s Head of Branded Content, Jess Parry, stressed the need for brands to trust in teams to deliver but to also remain involved, ensuring everyone knows what needs to be done to achieve success.

“It goes back to being a partnership and having trust, handing over the responsibility to us in the sense that we know the platform and you can trust us to do a good job, But don’t hand over so much that we don’t understand your objectives, because we still need some hand holding to get it right for you,” she said.

While COVID-19 has presented challenges for media, Swift said The Block 2020 is very strong because of the coronavirus pandemic, not despite it

“It becomes interesting with a show like The Block, where COVID fundamentally affected how we made it. The producers managed to actually integrate what happened into The Block,” he said.

“What we’ve got is a little documentary about what happened with COVID, and it’s fascinating to watch. It is something that samples how we all felt during that period wrapped up in a TV reality renovating program. The Block this year is one of the strongest programs we’ve got because of COVID, not despite it.”

Brands told to harness creativity of film and photography to story-tell more powerfully

Brands must properly harness the creativity behind photography and film in their marketing communications to better reward an audience engaging with their advertising – that was one of the main takeaways from Powered by Nine’s Big Ideas Store session on the power of visual storytelling.

“If you can reward your audience for staying at the tele to watch through the ad break then you’ve done your job well as an advertiser,” Liza Goodall, Powered Studios’ Executive Producer of Video of Production, told the virtual event’s audience.

“One of the tools you can employ to break free is creativity. The more creative and outside the box, to coin a hackneyed phrase, then that’s exactly it, you’re breaking free from what’s been done a thousand times before,” she said when asked how brands can best employ visual storytelling to stand out in the market.

For Powered Studios, the key is to find the “balance between creativity and servicing a brand”, Goodall said, emphasising the need for brands to utilise highly skilled professionals to bring their story to life.

“What we’ve seen in terms of advertising in that COVID space is the perfect example of why it’s so important to have people trained in the discipline of telling a very short story with an advertising need connected to it,” she said.

“If you consider what you need to put all of that together – a director of photography, a director, a writer, an editor – those are key things and highly trained professionals are giving that powerful visual moment the very best shot it can get.

“If you think about the repetitive kind of Zoom-style screens we were seeing over and over, for obvious reasons, that helps us understand why it’s so key to bring the right professionals into the storytelling that goes into advertising.”

For Tony Gardiner, Director of TV at Fremantle Media, while photography tools are available to everyone, it is knowledge, skill and experience that steps professionals out of the crowd of smartphone photographers.

“Where we [professionals] stand out is we inherently know how to use the tools. The tools may be available to everyone and I encourage everyone to use them, but if you want your images to stand out I definitely think that’s where our skillset comes to the fore,” he said.

“Creativity is the key to breaking out of the mould, using the tools available to us in a creative way. That’s the best way you can break out.”

It was a message echoed by Gracie Otto, a film director boasting an impressive slate of television commercials for major clients including Bonds.

“As soon as someone does something different every other brand tries to replicate it,” she said.

“If you think of Bonds and underwear, every young woman wears this, that is the target market. So then don’t just squeeze it down to ‘these are the people we’ll target specifically’ or ‘this is the thing we’re going to idolise’. You can have influencers from all different walks of life. Brands like Bonds have always been ahead of the curve on that.”

Otto encouraged brands to stand out by embracing diversity as just something they do, as opposed to ticking a box on a checklist.

“Bonds have never segregated things. A lot of brands have a ticking the box thing, like let’s get this person in because we need someone with this body size, this colour skin. But when it’s not cast like that, but cast with eyes on being diverse, it makes it more normalised and less tokenistic.”

For Kate Geraghty, a photojournalist at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, her profession is separated from a world of citizen vloggers and photographers by a code of ethics.

“With a Herald or Age photographer, or any photojournalist for that matter, there’s a continuity of ethics,” she said. “You can look at our newspaper or whatever platform and you will know we have not enhanced or changed the image.

“The image they are seeing was taken on that day, the caption is relevant, and with everyone who’s not bound by those ethics we don’t know where the image has come from and what political motivations may be behind it.”

A Christmas like no other

After a year of hardship and challenges at home and around the world it’s time to focus on what’s important, celebrate our community and those nearest and dearest. Christmas this year will be a season like no other as Australians look to moments to feel connected to their family, their community and their nation.

At Nine, we understand the need to connect and we will bring meaningful content moments to Australians across sport, food and Christmas celebrations. From the Summer of Tennis to the Good Food Christmas television special and family favourite Carols by Candlelight, these moments also unlock a unique opportunity for your brand to connect with millions of Australians.

Connect this Christmas with Nine.

State of Origin: 40 Years of rivalry

State of Origin is unquestionably the greatest rivalry in Australian sport and the biggest television event of the year. In 2020, and for the first time in its 40-year history, the series will take place at the end of the NRL season, with all three matches LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on Nine’s Wide World of Sports. This year Origin offers an unrivalled marketing platform to build momentum for your brand in the run-up to the key Christmas retail trading period.

  • Game One: Wednesday, November 4
  • Game Two: Wednesday, November 11
  • Game Three: Wednesday, November 18

Summer of Tennis

When the world’s best tennis players go to battle in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, fans will have the best seat in the house with Nine’s coverage of the Australian Open 2020. For 31 days, from January 1 to 31, the best matches and biggest moments in the Summer of Tennis will be broadcast live and free on Nine and 9Gem, including the World Cup of Tennis, ATP Cup and other thrilling pre-tournaments, culminating in the jewel of the crown, the Australian Open.

From Channel 9 to our broadcast multi-channels, through to Nine Radio,our metropolitan print and publishing assets and our leading digital ecosystem, and from 9Now to Wide World of Sports and everything in between, that’s where millions of Aussies will connect with tennis over summer.

Good Food Christmas

Captivate food lovers and align your brand with moments of celebration this Christmas

Australia’s leading cross-platform food brand is bringing its unrivalled expertise and passion for food to even more consumers with the launch of a Christmas television special.

Coming to Channel 9 this December, Christmas with Good Food will bring all the Christmas cooking, summer dining and entertaining inspiration together in a one-off television special. The program will include top tips, cooking segments, and ways to make entertaining at home stress-free this festive season. 

​Partner with Good Food to promote your brand to avid food enthusiasts across our Nine Network in TV, Print and Digital, engaging with Australians as they are planning their festive celebrations.

A Christmas tradition which brings the community together

Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight has been a Christmas tradition for over 80 years – combining classic Australian Christmas carols and a great evening of family entertainment. Whilst the festive season will undoubtedly look a little different this year, our audiences will be looking to us to provide a sense of community across the Christmas period.

Our “Carols family” includes performers such as Denis Walter and Marina Prior who have been a part of the event for over 30 years, not to mention all the festive families who attend the concert and those who watch it at home year after year. They all come together every Christmas Eve at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl to support the Vision Australia community.

Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight is a stalwart of Christmas tradition which presents the perfect platform for brands to showcase products and offers in the lead-up to not only the holiday period, but also Australia’s billion-dollar Boxing Day shopping spree.

To connect your brand with millions of Australians this Christmas season, connect with your sales representative here.

How to maximise effectiveness: creative or media?

As brands face new challenges as a result of COVID-19, the question of creative investment versus media spend is becoming even more important with every marketing budget dollar looked at to deliver business results.

It leaves marketers faced with the challenge of creative or reach?

Presenting at Powered by Nine’s Big Ideas Store on a session on creative effectiveness, Nine’s Director of Effectiveness, Jonathan Fox, cited research from Nielsen Catalina breaking down the utopia of getting creativity and media spend right.

“Nielsen Catalina research found almost 50 per cent of advertising effectiveness is due to the creative alone, the other half is down to the delivery of advertising. After all, an ad needs to be seen to be effective, but when enough people see it, it’s all about the creative,” said Fox.

“Research tells us effective creative should be simple, emotional and well-branded. To max out on branded attention, use characters and sonic brand cues. If you follow these rules, you’ll deliver a highly effective ad that delivers big business outcomes.”

However, for former adman, Russel Howcroft, who is joining Nine Radio’s 3AW network in the Breakfast slot alongside long-time co-anchor Ross Stevenson, reach should be the primary focus, with good creative a secondary concern.

“What we need to do is spend as much money as we possibly can to get as much reach as we possibly can, while bearing in mind you need to create something sticky and interesting. It’s really tough to do,” he said. “The utopia is possible, but if I was to say chicken or egg, I’d be reaching for reach first and foremost and then doing my best to do good creative work.”

But for Mike Spirkovski, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi Australia, excellent creative can create its own reach.

“It’s always about getting out there to your audience, but if you do something amazing people will seek it out. Focus on doing something great and it will push itself out to a degree,” he said.

“I find the fragmentation, having say $10 million and spreading that out wide, sort of dilutes the idea or the availability of being able to do something amazing. If you focus on doing something amazing and then find a way to get that out in the marketplace, it can actually help. It’s about the idea. For me, it’s about coming up with something really fresh, really unique, something consumers are going to love.”

Howcroft reminded the audience that the concept of good creative is subjective.

“We’ve got to be very careful about being binary, about what is good content – simply repeating the same thing is a low-cost way,” he said.

“There are rules, there are ways one can do this [ensure effectiveness]. Frankly, it’s more important to repeat, repeat, repeat the same message that’s working then try to find a new way,” he added, listing Bunnings’ marketing with its repeated tagline “lowest prices are just the beginning” as an example. Bunnings only started to move away from this tagline at the start of 2020 after 25 years of using it in market.

Staying with a marketing message over the long-term can be the hardest thing for a marketing team to do, according to Jenny Melhuish, Head of Brand, Advertising and Media for Westpac Group which includes Westpac, St George, Bank of Melbourne, BankSA, BT and RAMS.

“The hardest thing is sticking with it – those results don’t come quickly. It’s so easy to want to divert back to that activation layer. When you turn that tap on you can help customers immediately because you have offers, while that brand layer is relentlessly hard to deliver on,” she said.

But being relentless and “sticking with it” can deliver results, as the group’s St George Bank has seen through its use of the Little Dragon, or LD.

“He’s meant to be the fire in your belly. It’s an interesting asset for the St George brand because we can have a conversation with consumers which doesn’t sound like we’re speaking to them like a bank,” said Melhuish.

“The Chase, which is a new brand campaign for St George talking about our St George difference, is one we launched in lockdown, and after six weeks we saw a brand linkage of about 92-93 per cent, which is amazing, but it’s taken five years to build that.

“We’ve got Pippa the Penguin in Bank of Melbourne and after about a year she hit 74 per cent, so you can see it builds over time.”

For the banking brands within the Westpac Group, a character like LD or Pippa the Penguin help create brand linkage.

“In fact for the banking group brands, most have a character and a code because we have different challenges,” Melhuish said. “Our share of voice is a lot lower for those brands so we need to make sure we get the cut-through and brand linkage. So if you see an ad and you don’t attribute it back to us straight away, you’re just giving someone else a free kick.

“We want to make sure our customers know it’s us and what we have to offer.”

For marketers wanting to instil confidence in a campaign, Fox noted the role of data to conduct creative testing.

“Many businesses will put your ad out there in front of thousands of people and you can ask many questions to pull out campaign messaging, brand recall, and start to benchmark it to previous ads,” he said.

“Companies like Gemba, Nielsen, Ipsos, Kantar – you can run creative testing, and even through our own 9Nation panel you can get some confidence with your ad.”

NRL to focus on effectiveness post COVID-19

Looking to the future following the COVID-19 lockdown and suspension of sport, the NRL’s head of marketing and brand, Peter Jarmain, says the league will need to do more with less and focus increasingly on stronger data and research to ensure its marketing is hitting the right note.

Speaking on RESET Now, an initiative between the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), Nine and Mi3 for marketers to share their experience and evolving strategies as they manage the COVID-19 crisis, plan for the recovery, and see how deep consumer mindsets and behaviour might shift, Jarmain says behavioural changes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic must make the NRL’s marketing team more efficient as it focuses on selling tickets and building the rugby league brand.

“We’re expecting crowds back in August, or significant numbers, so that’s really encouraging,” Jarmain says.

“However, we’re getting intel from our research partners about how the landscape has changed since before the pandemic. A recent global study said 55 per cent of people would be reluctant to attend a mass-entertainment sporting event, even if they’re allowed to.

“There’s going to be an impact on people’s disposable income too, and as an entertainment product that potentially could have an impact on us. But we’ll certainly get back to the fundamentals of building the brand in the short term, selling tickets to finals, the Grand Final and State of Origin.”

In making their marketing more efficient, Jarmain says the NRL will have to do more with less.

“We need a razor-sharp focus on those things that really drive the net contributions, be it the brand or the commercial outcome. In the past we’ve done a few things without having a clear sense of their impact, so we need to get stronger data and research to track what actually moves the dial and be clear around those areas of focus.”

As crowds begin to return to the stadiums, Jarmain says the NRL’s marketing team are focused on improving efficiency in driving ticket sales for major events and continuing to invest in the experience and brand of those events.

“Effective storytelling is a powerful vehicle to build engagement with fans so we’ll continue to find those stories and tell them,” he says.

The NRL was shut down indefinitely at the end of March after two rounds and play resumed in empty grounds at the end of May. This presented a new challenge for the league: to ensure it delivered the same entertainment experience despite fans not being allowed to attend games.

“When the competition resumed we had record TV ratings, but having no fans in the stands was a big challenge for us. We had to do a lot of work on improving the atmosphere, particularly for the viewer at home, while also creating a way for fans to engage with players in the stadium,” Jarmain says.

“We also had to think of the players because playing in an empty stadium is not quite as motivating. So how could we get the fans’ voices heard or send their messages into the live venue? We did a couple of things which were very successful. Working with our broadcast partners, we introduced crowd noise, and whilst it’s not authentic, you quickly forgot about that and it allows you to get immersed in the game.”

The NRL also encouraged fans to share messages via social media which were splashed on the big screen at the ground.

“Players could see what fans were saying at home, and we continued to use game-day presentation elements like flames erupting,” Jarmain explained. “We also had player-specific soundtracks to punctuate key moments throughout play.

“And we unashamedly pinched an idea from the Bundesliga in Germany which allowed fans to create a cardboard cutout of themselves to be placed on seats in in the stand.”

 While the competition was suspended, Jarmain says it remained critically important to keep working on the NRL brand to sell tickets in the future.

“We’re always cognisant of building the brand and the sport, but sport is somewhat unique and brand building can take a number of different forms for us,” he says.

“It’s actually about thinking how we can build brand through some of those other things we do. For example, improving the game itself, ensuring it’s free-flowing and exciting, creating opportunities like the Magic Round, as well as news products – they can help you define and build a brand and expose it to a new audience.”

Jarmain says the media have “an insatiable appetite” for rugby league, demonstrated through the constant stories about the NRL even when no boots where on the grass.

“Effective storytelling is a very powerful vehicle for us in brand building and we do that through our broadcast partners and our own digital network,” he says.

“There are also a lot of things we can connect with in terms of the history and heritage of the game, our community programs, stories about players, that really help to shape the brand.

“The other aspect to this is having a very clear narrative for the game, and we’ve done a lot of work there over the last couple of years in terms of identifying what we stand for and making sure we can articulate that across all the different touchpoints. It provides something that comes through outside of our traditional advertising.”

Tourism Australia CMO on importance of not going ‘dark’ during COVID-19

The chief marketing officer for Tourism Australia says she is “heartbroken” over suspending the “Matesong” marketing campaign in the UK as Australia faced the summer bushfire disaster – but emphasises the importance of not going “dark” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on RESET Now, an initiative between the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), Nine and Mi3 for marketers to share their experience and evolving strategies as they manage the COVID-19 crisis, plan for the recovery, and see how deep consumer mindsets and behaviour might shift, Susan Coghill reflects on how Australia’s national tourism body has faced the many challenges of 2020.

“I’m so heartbroken about that campaign,” she said about the difficult decision to suspend Tourism Australia’s “Matesong” campaign in the UK which stars Kylie Minogue.

“We absolutely loved that campaign. Our team in the UK, the audience in the UK absolutely loved that campaign. Somebody described it to me as going through a breakup and not being able to talk about that person anymore. That’s sort of what it feels like, to be honest.”

“Matesong” launched in the UK on Christmas Day in the ad-break before the Queen’s Speech as part of a new $15 million Tourism Australia campaign to entice more Brits Down Under. The campaign was suspended in early January as images of Australia on fire flooded news services around the world.

“It was off to a really great start – we had fantastic viewership,” says Coghill. “We had over 33 million views just in that first week. We had incredibly positive engagement on social media, about 3000 articles written in the UK, and 34 million dollars in equivalent advertising value (EAV).

“We had coverage about it scoring a 10 out of 10 in terms of a year-end tourism and Christmas campaign in Travel Weekly, which is the most widely read travel publication in the UK. So we were really onto a winner, as Mark Ritson said, until tragedy struck.”

For Tourism Australia, 2020 continued to deliver challenges with the global COVID-19 pandemic coming on the heels of the horrific bushfire season, domestic and international borders closing, and Australians ordered to stay at home.

Coghill says it was incredibly important for Tourism Australia to not go “dark”, meaning not to switch off all its marketing communications

“Tourism is an incredibly competitive category. It has grown even more competitive over the last 10 or 15 years as more markets have started to increase their spend and increase their focus on tourism.

“Certainly, as we look at the year ahead and the potential for Australia’s borders to be  closed a bit longer than some other markets, we need to make sure that we are continuing to build our brand, to build awareness, and make sure we have engagement with our high-value travellers around the world. That means making sure we’ve got the right degree of communications continuing in each market.”

For Tourism Australia, the focus during the pandemic has been to offer would-be travellers inspiration, with marketing focusing on the dreaming and planning phases.

“We pivoted once the bushfires happened, away from a lot of our international marketing and focusing on the domestic market. As we were about to start ramping up our international marketing again the coronavirus started to happen. We paused to take stock domestically and internationally and when we felt that the time was right we returned with communications that felt appropriate for the moment,” Coghill says.

“Internationally that meant a lot of focus on the dreaming and planning type of communications, giving people a bit of respite from their lives in lockdown, something to dream about their next holiday in Australia.”

For the domestic market, Coghill says that as restrictions ease, with the exception of Victoria, Tourism Australia is looking at communications around inspiring home and excitement.

“It’s a bit of that rising optimism about being able to get out and see and explore your own backyard again. We’re going through the process now of planning the rest of our domestic marketing for the year ahead, where we’ll continue to encourage Australians to get out and see the rest of the country they haven’t seen in years.”

Internationally, Tourism Australia has kept up its marketing despite the challenges facing the travel industry, with content partnerships in England with The Telegraph and The Daily Mail, while social media remains an important channel when it comes to the planning and dreaming phases of travel planning.

“We had our big social media activation in the UK, Live From Aus, 32 live events across Australia over two days that we live-streamed globally. We took that content and chopped it up and we’ve been promoting it in the weeks following that event,” says Coghill.

“It’s still very much in that dreaming phase, helping people to be inspired about Australia, giving them a bit of inspiration for where they might go when they’re ready to start to plan their travel. And when the moment’s right we will start to bring our partners in.”

Tourism Australia is keeping a close eye on its key markets around the world, waiting for borders to open and policies around how different countries will operate following COVID-19.

“We have started what we’re calling a green-light program where we look at key leading indicators, whether it be borders opening, the state of the coronavirus situation in any of those markets, what’s the consumer confidence like, how likely are they to travel? We’re pulling that from our own research and a myriad of other sources around the world,” says Coghill.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that we’re planning out our marketing activities so that we have that presence. We are visible. We are priming the market. We’re staying relevant, driving awareness, and as soon as the borders are open we’ll be able to shift and turn on the sort of marketing that will drive conversion and bring travellers back as quickly as possible.”