Story Telling vs. Integration

I’ve been working with Andrea Hadley, eMetrics Conference Director, on putting together the “Transmedia and Multi-Channel Media Experience” panel for this month’s Toronto conference and we’ve been discussing what sort of panelists we should include: content producers versus marketers.

I asserted that a multiplatform advertising campaign qualifies as transmedia story telling if the messaging engages an audience with a brand narrative across platforms/mediums.  Andrea made the point that entertainment groups seem to have a better understanding of leveraging each medium for its unique value by producing unique ways to engage and in many cases unique content for each medium as opposed to repurposing the same content across each medium.  I had to agree that that is the case more often than not.

It wasn’t so many years ago that the dialogue around integrated marketing centred around the importance of having a consistent message in every channel.  Given budgets, timing and quality control that typically meant exactly the same message (copy, visuals, offer) reformatted for each channel used.  No one wanted to confuse a consumer or waste an impression by deviating from a single minded campaign message.  Today, to play effectively in that “high touch” end of spectrum you need to add to or augment the brand story in each medium.  It’s more possible now than ever before and more importantly, consumers expect it.

Ad noticability correlates with relevance.  People pay attention to what they are interested in and when they are really interested they want to get involved.  As part of a research project I’m working on, I talked to a number of 18 -24 year olds about advertising.  Over and over they recalled ads that appealed to interests they already had and expressed disappointment at incidents where they felt like the messaging ended in a dead end – pulled into websites and Facebook pages that didn’t provide more information or any real interaction.  I asked my 17 year if he could tell me about a campaign (good or bad) that he’s noticed recently.  He mentioned the current 5 for 5 Taco Bell campaign.  Good news: he’s in the target market!  Bad news: his criticism was that the online banner ads were identical to the subway posters – enough all ready.  Seems like a missed opportunity to me. (BTW while his perception is that the ads are every where and he’s being beaten over the head, I’ve not noticed them at all!)

One of my favourite transmedia stories is Bitchin Kitchen.  A well articulated brand with solid content that offers a different experience in each channel (TV, web, Facebook).  You can enjoy each element on its own, but they work together to deepen appreciation and engagement, turning audiences into fans.  The brand look and feel is consistent in every channel but the specific content/message is appropriate to the particular time and place.  Fun stuff and way smart too.

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Filed under High Touch Media, Transmedia

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