Friday, 25 November 2011

Entertaining, Interesting and Useful

In these days of so-called "distraction culture", we are constantly reminded that for branded content to work, it must fulfill at least one - and preferably more - of the three following criteria:
- entertaining
- interesting or informative
- useful

Even in the days when we didn't have so many distractions demanding our time and our attention spans were slightly above that of the average butterfly, I think the same thing was true.

I can still recall many TV commercials from my childhood that were genuinely entertaining, probably more than I can from the last twenty years, although that's possibly a sign of age. Interesting or informative is a little more difficult, although I think many of the classic long-copy print ads fall into that category - there were some great ones on the London Underground platforms.

The useful category had me stumped until I started thinking beyond what was called "advertising" at that time. And then they came, tumbling back into my memory - those often subtly branded items that became part of of everyday life - and, dare I say it, improved it in some little way.

The Be-Ro cookbook, with its recipes for Fairy Cakes and Victoria Sponge. The National Benzole set of "touring maps" of Great Britain - a must for those caravan holidays in Wales or Scotland. And the Lloyds Bank "Black Horse" money box for young savers which apparently evoked many a Godfather joke amongst the bank staff at the time. But - I still hold an account with that bank to this day!

These days, of course, many of the "useful" ideas will be apps rather than something solid and tangible. But if brands can develop digital gizmos that are half as useful as the examples above, it's one way to keep people involved for more than the distraction culture's seven minutes.

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