by MarkLives (@marklives) What are the expectations for the branded content industry in 2018? We emailed a panel of key industry executives for their take on the macro environment, budgets, changes in messaging, movement in the industry and any consumer and communication trends they’ll be looking out for. Lebogang Rasethaba of Arcade Content and Egg Films gives his take.

Lebogang Rasethaba

Lebogang RasethabaLebogang Rasethaba is co-founder of the multi-award-winning production company, Arcade Content. He directs ads through Egg Films and brand films, music videos and documentaries through Arcade. His work has won Creative Circle Ad of the Year; been featured on sites such as Highsnobiety, i-D, Nowness and Vice; and screened at TED Global, among other accolades.

2017 was a strange year. Our lead politicians misbehaved and basically threw the narrative of our progressive democracy into a tailspin. People lost hope; people got scared. My business partner got worried.

Now, I usually don’t care when older white men ‘are scared about the future of our country’ because whatever, older man, me and you have different ideas of ‘scary.’ But, for the most part, even though we live in completely different worlds, I think he gets it; he tries. So, when he laid it down to me and put his fears about the future of South Africa into context, I also got a little shook. For example, marketing budgets will be the first thing to get cut by foreign companies which have invested in South Africa. “I mean look at VW,” he said. “When last did they make an ad?” For the first time, I got a sense of the relationship between politics, South Africa’s reputation and what we do — what I do. 2017 was a strange year.

But we kept at it, asking ourselves serious questions.

“What is my company? What is branded content? What is the difference between the two companies? On which reel does this new job go? What happens when our one director does a job for the first company but is technically a director for the second company?” These questions all might sound like self-indulgent-office-politics but they’re not. Because a lot of people are asking the same questions; just change the names of the players and then, all of a sudden, these questions also affect you.

Little echo-chambers

Here’s a mindf*ck I grapple with daily. If your ad flights during Generations, there is a chance around 8m people will see it. Eight. Million. People. At. The. Same. Time. And then think of how long it takes for an ad to get 100 000 views on YouTube. In our little echo-chambers, it feels as if digital is where it’s at, and that’s probably true but, for the larger population, they are more likely to see an amazing advert on TV.

Brand films aren’t low-budget ads. If you spend money on branded content, you will win E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

So, that’s the first challenge: we need to expand our definitions of what brand films are. Together. All of us. That brand films are for the internet and TV commercials are for TV isn’t good enough because brand films end up on TV and TVCs end up on the internet. How do we manage this overlap?

A good female friend of mine was on Instagram and stopped on this random women’s account and said, “She is who I would be if I had the guts to be hot.” And that kinda feels like the relationship between brand films and TV ads: brand films are TV adverts that aren’t scared to be overly sexy.

Potential and nuance

And then my last point. and probably my favourite word: nuance. I recently watched and thoroughly enjoyed Baby Driver; a fun, energetic film about a young heist getaway driver and all his wonderful idiosyncrasies. A few years ago, I watched and thoroughly enjoyed Drive: a dreamy, arty film about a young heist getaway driver and all his wonderful idiosyncrasies. The point I am making is that Hollywood has been successful at creating characters and then exploring the full extent of the nuances of these characters. In South Africa, we often limit our deeper exploration of the nuance of our characters because we think it’s already been done. But we haven’t fully explored the extent of nuance of the characters we create and capture on screen.

I think we did a good job of creating stars and influencers, and making films about them where they talk about themselves over slow-motion footage of themselves talking about the thing they are doing. I think there’s an amazing opportunity to push our understandings and explore the nuance of what it means to be South African through the characters we create and capture on-screen.

My brand content company has been in business for about four years now. I was convinced the work I did at the beginning were brand films but, now, I look at my showreel and I think, “I need to think bigger about what I can do with this idea of brand films.” But I can’t do it alone: we all need to think bigger about the potential and nuance of brand films.

#BigQ2018 series


MarkLives logoLaunched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key advertising and marketing industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.

Sign up now for the MarkLives email newsletter every Monday and Thursday, now including headlines from the company newsroom service!

Online CPD Courses Psychology Online CPD Courses Marketing analytics software Marketing analytics software for small business Business management software Business accounting software Gearbox repair company Makeup artist