This week, Shine TV’s Jamie Munro, explains the importance of brand-power when developing a hit series and demonstrates its significance in the domestic and international marketplace.
At Shine TV, creativity is at the heart of everything we do, from the creation of new ideas, to the execution of our hit shows but crucially, the way that our commercial and creative teams can interact to bring a new life to content both in individual markets and overseas.
There are 3 key components we prioritise as we push forward to propel our existing global franchises and fast track the best new ideas to screen: ‘Brand Creation’, Brand Building’ and Brand Exploitation’.
When do you start to think of your programme as a ‘Brand’? From the moment the programme idea is conceived, we are thinking about what it will mean to viewers and the relationship it will have. We are thinking right from the start in terms of ‘Brand’.
To define a programme as a brand we use a simple definition: When a programme creates a set of describable expectations with the viewer. Why should we attach a commercial term to an editorial product? Because applying straightforward commercial ‘Brand’ strategies help us to maximise the return on what we have created.
How many producers actually have a clear strategy for extending their much loved and cherished programme into other formats? How often is the idea of a book etc just an afterthought or a response to an external offer? The relationship between the programme brand, the viewer/consumer and the brand extension must be carefully thought through as it can be damaging if it’s done adhoc!:
- Content must give something new to the consumer.
- Proposition must be close to the broadcast brand.
- Brand extension relationship with the consumer must be clear.
- Broadcast Brand values must be closely adhered to.
- Brand visual style must be consistent with Broadcast.
- A brand extension must give the consumer a new experience of a brand they are familiar with – and this must exceed their expectation.
A good brand extension strategy adds a new dimension to a broadcast brand that sets it apart from its competitors and can increase its appeal to broadcasters. Brand extensions can:
- Reinforce and strengthen the broadcast brand through interaction with the core consumer.
- Add to/build a core viewing audience.
- Extend the life of a broadcast brand after its TX life.
- Provide a host of creative opportunities for the brand talent.
- Add additional lucrative revenue streams.
Building Brands: When we look at our biggest titles, our ambition is not only to create the very best shows for our audiences and Broadcasting partners but also to maximise the opportunity the viewers have to engage with our content; to exponentially increase the value of those titles in our markets.
An example produced originally by our US Shine cousins, Reveille, is the show you may know, The Biggest Loser. This show can only be described as a broadcasting phenomenon in the US. Now airing its 9th series on NBC, the most recent premiere attracted over 13 million viewers which is testament to the fantastic production and on-air talent as each series gets bigger than the last. But The Biggest Loser’s success is not only in its TV form but in its ability to break out of the linear schedule and become one of America’s most successful health and lifestyle brands. Through integration, merchandising and licensing the brand is now worth in excess of $50 million dollars.
Why is building brands important? I think the answer is twofold. Firstly and clearly the challenge for our commercial teams to maximise the value of the TV show is vital, with the cost of production growing each year, and budgets being squeezed, the ability for a show to generate revenue off air that can be shared between the producer and broadcaster is a sweetener beyond belief.
But I think it is more important to talk about the second: which is viewer engagement. What does The Biggest Loser ancillary activity do for the life of the show? Simply put, its the ability to cross promote, to become part of the viewers’ lives and instil itself as a force to be reckoned with off screen as it is on screen is vital because viewers will continue to come back to the show for more. The Biggest Loser ranch, recently voted one of the best spas’ in America, where you can work out and practice the healthy living shown on the show, is the perfect example of the immersive experience our viewers crave.
Now I know that the international market has sometimes been resistant to the aggressive exploitation and commercial activity common in the US but I think I can provide other examples where we have engaged the audience to the same effect in the UK. MasterChef has become a global phenomenon, started 20 years ago the show has moved from a daytime strip on BBC2 to achieving just under 8 million viewers in primetime BBC1. And the Australian version was recently the most watched show ever in Australia with a 75+% share.
It’s a competitive reality show based around cooking not like your standard “dump and stir ” cookery shows that actually teach you how to cook! So we created our Masterchef brand architecture. Why di d we do this? Because we wanted to really get to the heart of our show, make authentic our message and keep true to the promise that our creative teams deliver in the show in everything else we do. In turn, giving our audience what they want and sharing that success with our partners. One example of this, is through our live event MasterChef Live – where fans of the show can meet the presenters and winner’s, and compete in a real live invention test.
Next up is ‘Brand Creation’. Another challenge we all face as it gets harder and harder to get shows to air, is the need to think about how the lessons of branding can help us in our creative mission to getting new shows commissioned – this comes back to my original line on putting creativity first.
Got To Dance (a co-production with Princess for Sky 1), is a dance show that has come into an already crowded genre in the marketplace, it is a rip roaring success and some of the key elements is that the show is authentic (judges who actually perform!) talented contributors doing what they do best, and the show looks amazing. It ticks all the boxes for viewers who love big entertainment shows. We stuck to the basics without being over complicated or contrived and this not only let us start working on the ancillary strategy and implementation but also brought us to the attention of other broadcasters and commercial partners hence our new development – Don’t Stop Believing (6×90 – for 5 this summer) which links our editorial delivery with new funding models as Group M are funding the production.
If I’m allowed to borrow another example from one of our sister companies, Dragonfly. They have pioneered a new form of factual programming for Channel 4. Their skill is not only to produce groundbreaking, popular and critically acclaimed television but do it in a way that their broadcast partner can brand – claim it as uniquely their ownand develop it in multiple strands.
In summary, when we talk about brands we need to see behind the buzz words and look more carefully at what they can offer our broadcast partners, audiences and creatives. In getting this right we can make television that is both impactful on and off screen and create franchises that have the potential to run and run benefiting us and all our partners.
Jamie Munro is Joint Managing Director at Shine TV