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One of the jury for Cannes Lions Entertainment Awards, Josh Black, recently gave a subtly riveting view on what he regarded good brand content, and why at present Asia are going down the path of advertising-prone content creation.

He highlighted that as a judge, he was exposed to around 1,700 works entered in dozens of the Lions Entertainment categories. The exposure gave him quite an insight to how agencies in Asia approach content building in creative work. Although he acknowledges a couple of great pieces of work from Asia that stood out, he believes that most of the works produced gravitated towards putting advertising as the goal.

Josh saw this complication as two big barriers – intent and expectations.


Anything you do is the result of your intention. If you intend to produce great work, the result would most likely be great work. Josh asked us to question, are the work we create intends to entertain, to add value, or to drive a cause?

To him, many of the advertisers in Asia are more interested to use brand funded content and entertainment as another way to push product message to drive sales. They perceive this as a softer or lighter version of advertising. This approach, or intention, would somehow lead the advertiser to start focusing more on the placement of the brand within the entertainment rather than what value they are actually adding to the consumer or viewer. This is what produces skippable, or worse, interruptive and unwatchable content.

Josh pointed out a few great pieces of work which didn’t ‘felt like advertising’. Just like how you can tell if someone is sincere, so too he was able to tell how honest the works were. He felt that the marketers who wrote the briefs for the works were really into producing great films that aim to inform, educate and entertain, rather than something that masquerades as advertising.

We need to rethink the way we approach our work in order for consumers to value what we do, otherwise they will continue to see the work for what it is, skippable long-form advertising.


Advertisers in Asia expect content to do far too much for the resources they put against it, said Josh. Too many advertisers are asking their partners to produce brand funded entertainment at 20 percent of the cost of advertising and expecting it to achieve better results. It doesn’t work like that. Also, you can’t expect people to find and view your work if you only post it on your Facebook Page and Youtube Channel. Two is not a crowd and this decision accounts for lazy media planning.

With thousands of hours of content uploaded each hour on Youtube, using a couple of channels just wouldn’t suffice for your content to be out there. Media planners need to think more creatively about not only the content distribution channels but also partnering with the content producers to create different forms of the content for different channels and audiences. This accounts for intelligent media planning.

In a Nutshell

“The future of brand content will be creating quality work with the right intent built off smart thinking, great story telling and intelligent media planning. It’s a simple formula.”

Implementing this formula correctly offers great chances for consumers to hit the replay button rather than skip one, and it gives way for content to become entertainment rather than just, content.

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