Corporate Eye

Cannes Recognizes Branded Content is Hot with New Award Category

Branded content is at the top of every brand manager’s to do list in 2012, and this year, branded content will get its own category for recognition at the week-long Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. For the first time, Branded Content & Entertainment Lions will be awarded at the festival as will Mobile Lions for mobile creative work.

The world of branded content has evolved significantly over the past few years, and the Branded Content & Entertainment Lions competition should include some great creative that can inspire other brands and will likely draw attention to specific trends guiding branded content in 2012.

For example, original branded web series programming has been gaining more attention over the past couple of years. Back in 2010, the 7-Eleven Road Trip Rally original web series, distributed by, followed two teams as they traveled across the United States. The teams had to purchase all items they needed during the trip from 7-Eleven stores and participate in challenges at 7-Eleven stores along the way.

In 2011, Denny’s scored celebrity help from Jason Bateman and David Koechner in its own web series, “Always Open,” where the actors conducted casual interviews while sitting in a booth and sharing a meal at a Denny’s restaurant. Last week, Yahoo! announced it’s partnering with Electus and CollegeHumor for its own original web series called Blindsided which will feature sports stars pulling pranks on teammates.

The growing interest in branded content from the creative world further establishes it as a marketing strategy that’s here to stay. By owning the content, brands can control messages in a much better way than traditional digital advertising or television product placement allow. Original web series programming gives brands the best of both worlds — reaching an audience looking for entertainment they can enjoy, share and talk about while controlling the brand experience. What’s not to love from a brand perspective?

What do you think about the growing trend toward original branded web programming and the focus on branded content as a creative art? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.