Generating Revenue: Using the Brand

By James Milward (French)

Interactive is changing: digital companies are blurring ideation, strategy and execution, coming into projects earlier and moving outside their traditional remit to provide creative, broadcast production and strategic expertise that increase brand experience and audience relationships. For entrepreneurs, “hybridization” offers the opportunity for interactive producers to evolve into creative partners who can expand their offering into multiple revenue streams. In a rapidly fragmenting media landscape, wide ranging expertise is immeasurably valuable in providing a creatively coherent, one stop solution for brands, broadcasters and traditional media producers.

To accomplish this, you must work with design, motion graphics, technology and film production and be able to provide strategic consulting to create awesome ways to make ideas and narratives more compelling.

Approach projects holistically as opposed to being focused on simply building a website or interactive application. This means extending a central idea beyond interactive and into branding, the open title sequence, show packaging, motion graphics and even CGI, sometimes filming additional sequences, (e.g. dramatic re-creations,) all of which can be conceived and created to align with the TV show’s narrative and style to create an integrated, multi-platform, immersive experience.

Essentially what this comes down to is thinking about packaging the TV show and creating a ‘brand’ out of the project. This means identifying the characteristics of the audience and the vehicle, (or the network), and creating a fully formed ‘brand identity’, which like any good brand, evokes a positive emotional response, around the property. The idea is to infuse all aspects of the project with a unified approach that opens doors and ultimately helps to create a clear and attractive property to advertisers and sponsors. A recent example of branding and sponsorship is our work with the Travel TV series Departures, currently entering its third season of production for OLN, CTV and The National Geographic Channel around the world. Working with producers and broadcasters, we took the show’s brand identity, embodied in words like ‘hip’, ‘aspirational’, ‘edgy’ and yet ‘real and approachable’ and with this tone created an online extension which closely matched the identity of the ‘brand’ . As a result we have had huge responses from sponsors who are investing in it, as well as contributions of in-kind travel, accommodations, and gear or equipment, totaling currently between $30,000 to $60,000 in direct support. From a broadcaster point of view, our aligned online / broadcast promotion and interactive initiative has been valued at between $250- 500,000 in overall advertising and sponsorship revenue.

Anpther example is Secret Location’s recent work with Vision TV’s “I Prophesy: The Future Revealed“. We were involved from the outset (even before several of the strand’s TV producers were involved), which allowed us from an interactive production standpoint to pitch and win the concept/production for the large-scale opening title sequence and on-air package branding. Collaborating from an early stage means we usually have first shot at getting our ideas to the producers and broadcasters, greatly enhancing our chances of those ideas being favoured and ultimately purchased, creating peripheral elements and revenue. We also worked with one of the show’s producers to conceive and then create special effects and CGI for numerous TV episodes. Additionally our original dramatic re-creations, produced independently for the website, were licensed from us to use in the TV show. This ‘up sell’ created an additional budget beyond the Interactive component, ultimately providing more revenue and impact for Secret Location.

That integrated, early-bird approach allows you to work closely with the TV show’s director to shape the show branding that can result in impacting the style and aesthetic of the titles, packaging, shooting style and the way the network sells the show to sponsors and advertisers.

The result is a creatively more fulfilling process and project for the new media producer, a better, more integrated solution for the client and a progressive business model that generates more revenue from a wider offering:

1. Approach every project holistically. View yourself as an equal creative partner, not just the ‘website people’.

2. Up sell yourself. Expand your capabilities beyond traditional interactive into other disciplines. Think of the project as an opportunity to work closely with the television show producers to develop both the show itself and the site rather than just extend or work with their existing content.

3. Keep your ears and eyes open for added needs from your client beyond interactive. Present opportunities for your services in more areas, creating a more diverse business model.

How Much Money Can You Make?

This depends on your company’s capabilities and your creative range. With a large-scale project with numerous elements (all of those we’ve mentioned earlier), we’ve had additional budget lines totaling as much as $90K. With projects comprising only a selection of the aforementioned elements that could still add $20-30K.

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