Foster’s online revival of former linear TV hit The fast Show is indicative of how brands should think more like content commissioners.

Today will see comedy sketch show The Fast Show return in full after over a decade of silence ( 10 November 2011). The only difference is that it is online only, and it will be brought to you by Foster’s, which approached the show creators to write the series.

There may be nothing new in online advertiser-funded or sponsored programming – brands including Dell and grooming brand Bulldog have been among those to reap the benefits from an association with popular and contemporary TV personalities. David Mitchell’s web-only Soapbox series, created by Channel Flip and sponsored consecutively by grooming brand Bulldog and Dell is a case in point. The latest series, now in its third incarnation, with Dell’s backing, has clocked up over 4m views online. Research showed first-show sponsor Bulldog report major brand uplift after the series, with 60% of the viewers claiming they had either tried the product or were planning to. 

TV personalities using online channels to resurrect their careers is also nothing new, although it is far from common. Fashion experts Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine gave themselves a much-needed boost when they agreed to shoot a web-only series, which aired on women’s portal iVillage last year, part funded by retail giant Westfield and T5M ( 13 May 2010).

The online series, called What They Did Next, caught the eye of Channel 4, which later reversioned the show to make one standalone programme for linear TV.

These are all great examples of how brands can make the most of online ad opportunities beyond the traditional, or even interactive, pre-roll format. But Foster’s revival of comedy sketch show The Fast show takes this a step further. The fact the brand itself approached the show creators to resurrect a comeback series is an example of how fast the role of brands is changing and the potential for them to start thinking of themselves as content commissioners, rather than markers.

If the series is a success, there is a potential for it to be picked up by a broadcaster. But also, with the rise in connected-TV rollout there is nothing to stop a brand like Foster’s launching its own channel to air its own content.

Car brands have already done this, although the video content here is blatantly marketing biased. A brand having its own comedy channel would be an interesting development.

The fast-approaching era of convergence is prompting a redefinition of editorial and marketing content and roles. Content creators are having to think more like marketers to ensure their brilliant content is seen and not lost in the sea of available online content. Surely that leaves space for brands to start thinking of themselves as content commissioners in their own right?


Published 10 November, 2011 by NMA Staff

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