Have you see BuzzFeed’s “Dear Kitten”? You probably have, since this specific bit of brilliant branded content that they created has nearly 15 million views so far and, along with many of their other incredibly popular branded content pieces, has made them the darling of millennials everywhere as well as the branded content industry. (See more examples of their branded content here.
Jonathan Perelman, the GM of Video for the company, isn’t surprised. He believes that branded content that speaks to the human condition resonates with viewers, no matter if it pertains to a specific brand or not. “When you can create that piece of content that speaks to somebody about they’re going through, it’s going to resonate better,” he says.
BuzzFeed is putting as much, or more, effort into awesome and innovative branded content as any other company today. With a newly minted paid residency program they’re bringing in content creators from all walks of life, including an 8th grade science teacher.
“Great content can come from anywhere,” Matt Baxter, the new head of branded video at BuzzFeed, tells AdAge, noting further that “What’s really interesting for us to look at is how can we can take some of their ideas, some of their knowledge and what they’re working on and morph that into really compelling video content.”
BuzzFeed is against the thought that branded content is the new ‘infomercial’. Ze Frank, their EVP of video, believes that people love their brands, and he also believes that bringing them interesting, entertaining and fun content only builds on that love affair.
“We shouldn’t short-sell the importance of brand messaging and the brand goals. If we keep thinking in terms of, ‘Here’s an amazing piece of editorial, let’s just put a brand stamp on it,’ I don’t think that’s serving the future of the industry necessarily,” Frank said. “I think we really do have to get to a point where we understand a bit more about the role this kind of messaging has on social and mobile and in people’s lives.”
Whatever role branded content ends up playing in advertising as an industry, one thing’s for certain; BuzzFeed is going to be one of the biggest players in the game.