The Battle of the Branded Content

Content marketing is the buzz word of the year so far, beating out Big Data and Customer-centric Marketing for the top spot.  The world of branded content has exploded in the last week or so with 3 heavy-weight contenders (or should that be Contenters!) fighting it out in the Facebook feed for the hearts and minds of the viewing public. Forget Harlem Shakes or trivial memes, these are the real deal – content produced by brands to drive a marketing outcome. It’ll be interesting to see who the winner is over the next month or so.

The Contenders:-

Dove Real Beauty Sketches

With a range of experience under its belt (remember Evolution and Onslaught), Dove is at it again with Beauty Sketches.  The longest of our three champions, weighing in at 3 minutes flat, Dove pulls at the heart strings, evokes emotion and encourages us to step up to the plate and be better people. Whilst its message may seem positive, it’s certainly had its detractors, both in the YouTube comments and with people writing lengthy analyses of why it’s inherently sexist and reinforcing the very issues it claims to address. Even YouTube’s news channel, The Young Turks, did an analysis of the video. The messaging is strong, building on their previous work, and there’s no doubting the brand.  If you’d like a longer brand immersion experience, Beauty Sketches is supported by its Big Brother, the 6:36 version . Beauty Sketches has also spawned a great spoof called Dove Real Beauty Sketches – Men, which is in itself going strong.

In terms of numbers, Dove is tracking well, with 20.7m views of the core video and 1.6m views of the Extended remix. The Male spoof has got to 1.7m on its own. As per the stats below, Facebook is what gave it the first push, but its real leap for stardom came from The Huffington Post. Dove shows a nice steady growth in views, and likely to keep going. Overall, it’s got all the makings of a champion – some controversy and debate, a strong start and great engagement with its key audience.

KMart Ship my Pants

The cheeky little new kid on the block, KMart’s The Ship is a TV ad masquerading as branded content and at 30 seconds, it is the lightweight of the pack. However, don’t discount this challenger, as he’s got the crowd behind him.  With news coverage from Bloomberg and ABC News and a host of other mainstream channels already transferred to YouTube, The Ship has also inspired an army of admirers who are creating spin offs. From the AutoTuned musical version through to the Minecraft edition, I think this plucky little fighter’s supporter base is just getting started and he’ll be able to go the distance. This piece has the strongest brand benefit built into it, and at the end of the ad, there’s no doubt about what your key take-away should be.

The stats show a slow start (or a lack of professional seeding) but then strong growth once it was discovered – again, The Huffington Post shows up as a launching pad. Whilst it’s 4 days older than Sketches, Ship is lagging a little at 14.7m views, but has a fair bit of additional reach through the spin-ons, duplicate copies and mainstream PR about it, so it’s right up there.


Evian Baby&Me

The odds-on favorite, Baby&Me has come roaring out the sheds with 21m views in just 4 days. With an impeccable pedigree from Roller Babies, Evian has been in the gym, taken its learning from its previous prize fights and come back looking like a champion. At 1 minute 17 seconds, it’s mid way between the other two, and has something for everyone, old and young, male and female. I suspect this is a champion that will run and run, and given that it’s likely to have some mainstream TV time coming up, expect to see this swamping the numbers and picking up a range of awards. However, of the three, this “film” (as it’s labeled) has the most tenuous link to the actual product and whilst it’s swamped with feel-good factor, I’m not sure if every viewer is going to make the connection to their next bottled water purchase.

The canny folk at Evian have disabled public stats, so we can’t see exactly what launched its bid for stardom, but I suspect it was a highly orchestrated plan. With 21m already, and going strong in embedded placements on Facebook, this may be the winner.

It’s always interesting watching the prize fighter contenters and working out what it is that makes them super-stars. Not many of our clients have the budgets to create content pieces like this, but by understanding what makes a breakout success, we can apply that knowledge when working with our clients to develop content strategies that can punch above their weight on the interwebs.

I’m planning to review these 3 in a month’s time and see how they’ve gone – did the Ship flame out in Round 2, a flash in the pan or did it build on its one liner ? Has Evian Baby&Me roller-bladed right over the competition, with the soundtrack breezing up the iTunes charts, or will Real Beauty shine through, touching hearts and souls whilst it drives sales in the health & beauty aisle? Tell me who you think is going to win and why in the comments…


Mike Zeederberg
Mike Zeederberg
Mike Zeederberg is the Managing Director and joint owner of Zuni and oversees the development and delivery of most client strategic work.

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    It seems that you can barely log into the internet today without finding dire warnings concerning the
    privacy of your respective Face – Book account. “Facebook has become selling information to government departments and giving clandestine usage of information security firms to enable them to spy on people from all around the world. I was more concered about other accounts I have that make use of the same user name the right way to hack facebook account security password same password.

  2. Amber Wentworth

    I have seen fashion ecommerce websites that have introduced some videos into their campaigns and lead to the website itself. Some have videos embedded on the website, which allows people to share more in social media space. But there is always the thought of balancing the content and convenience of usage of these websites, as heavy content makes the website harder to navigate and load. But I think, interactive content makes any fashion ecommerce website more appealing and attractive.

    • elise.cooper

      100% agree with you Amber – interactive content enhances the experience rather than static and 1 way comms.

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