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The Key to Truly Engaging Content

Trends and Insight 0 Add to collection

MediaCom CCO, Americas and co-head judge for the World Media Awards Jon Gittings on what makes a great cross-border, content-driven ad campaign

The Key to Truly Engaging Content

Based in New York, Jon Gittings is Chief Strategy Officer, Americas at MediaCom where he oversees strategic product and output for existing and prospective clients across North and Latin America. He is also a Co-Head Judge for the World Media Awards which are now open for entries until 25th January 2018. You can enter here. Here are his thoughts and advice to potential entrants on what makes for great cross-border, content-driven advertising campaigns and a little bit of insight into what makes him tick.


About content:

LBB> Why should agencies/advertisers enter the World Media Awards?

JG> Because it’s a great platform to recognise the impact of global culture/subcultures; because it represents social connectivity and influence across the world; these in turn drive the increasing ability of local trends to go global. All of which means that ‘internationalism’ in communications is alive and well and deserves to be celebrated. 


LBB> What are you hoping for most when you judge the awards?

JG> Delivering effective global or multi-market work isn’t easy. People will always push back with “that won’t work in my market” or behave in a “not invented here” manner. The risk is that in an effort to appease stakeholders, global and multi-market work becomes bland or watered down. So above all, I’m looking for work that has survived this process and remains distinctive, imaginative and excitingly effective.

On top of that, I’d like to see the usual suspect boxes ticked: is it culturally impactful, is it a frictionless consumer experience, is it a smart use of data et cetera?


LBB> What advice can you give potential entrants for creating a winning entry?

JG> Tell me a story.

Make me care.

Don’t bullshit me.

When creating the entry, don’t just try and cut down the original Powerpoint deck, or present the plan. Instead, step back, find the heart of what you achieved and why you achieved it, and then build your story around that. 


LBB> What is the role of the media agency in content-driven advertising?

JG> Whatever it wants it to be. No agency should be typecast.  


LBB> Podcasts are having a ‘golden moment’ in content-driven advertising. What’s driving their ascendance?

JG> It’s their ability to offer authenticity, trust and intimacy. Listening to a podcast is the media equivalent of hanging out with your favourite people.

Digital media may have connected the world, but in many ways it has also disconnected us. Too many social connections are filtered or edited to present an agenda-driven narrative. And too many digital touchpoints are full of bullshit distractions that we despise ourselves for clicking on (but just can’t help it). At the same time, as magazine readership has inevitably declined, the quality of the digital publisher product that is replacing it just isn’t the same. Some of the clickbait headlines I see from publishers I used to respect make me want to scream.  

I think the ‘golden moment’ of podcasts is a reaction to all of this. Long may it continue and prosper.


LBB> Content needs to be able to attract audience's attention, not simply disrupt and annoy. What's the key to truly engaging content?'

JG> Be surprising, challenging, and honestly provocative. Be more than generic. Be ambitious.


LBB> What three pieces of advice would you give a brand about to embark on a branded content campaign that needs to work across multiple countries/regions?

JG> Be realistic with your goals and budgets and be honest about the role of the campaign. There’s a lot of unnecessary politicking involved in regional/multi-market campaigns. There shouldn’t be.

Listen to your local markets and make sure they have a stake in the campaign (especially if you are asking for a financial contribution).

Make sure you have a consistent measurement process in place across all the relevant markets.  


LBB> What is the key to finding a content marketing idea that can translate across borders?

JG> It’s not easy, but you need to look for a shared truth that speaks to your consumers even though they may live in markets that have significantly different cultural dynamics. 

Imagine you are a car company that makes models designed and priced for the emerging middle class in emerging markets. India is a very different market to Mexico but people in both markets share the same aspirations of social (and physical) mobility. And the key to that mobility is education. So, for example, how can that car brand build a content programme around graduation or graduation day?


About you:

LBB> Your dream holiday destination?

JG> Whilst I’m partial to beach bungalows and white sand my dream destination must be to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda. They are beautiful and humbling and it would be a privilege to see them before they are lost to the world. Please don’t hesitate to donate to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.


LBB> Your favourite band/artist?

JG> Too many… Manic Street Preachers, Rolling Stones, Jack White/White Stripes, Prince, James Brown, but if I could pick one thing it would be the soul music that came out of the Motown, Stax, and Atlantic labels in the '60s and '70s.


LBB> What was your first single/music download?

JG> I am proud to say that my first ever single was ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ by the Clash. That was both the beginning and end of my musical credibility. My second single was Uptown Girl by Billy Joel.  


LBB> Your favourite TV series?

JG> Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Under the teenage soap opera exterior was a truly ground-breaking TV show that took serious risks in content and format. And it did ‘Like a Girl’ long before P&G came up with it.


LBB> Who are your creative heroes and why?

JG> The Abstract Expressionists… the greatest art movement of the 20th Century, if not all centuries.

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lbbonline.com, Thu, 04 Jan 2018 13:46:55 GMT