How CMOs Can Educate the C-Suite about Branded Content

                         GAmma Liz Denning

                        GAmma Liz Denning

This part is a no-brainer. Seasoned marketers know that the marketing mix has gotten infinitely more complicated with the number of platforms and difficulty to get a consumer’s attention. While marketers have many more possibilities to evaluate, we know that marketers must also make a concerted effort to educate their C-suite colleagues about the value of any type of marketing that feels new such as branded content. To non-marketers, new types of marketing such as content marketing can feel like a risk, but not when they understand the upside of sizeable return and perception of being seen as an innovative brand. To help, here are some of the misconceptions we hear and how CMOs can explain the value for content marketing and branded content.

Misconception: Branded Content is only product placement. Product placement is a type of branded content, but just one of the ways that a brand can be included in a story in a way that provides meaning to the fan.

The goal of branded content is to find the “sweet spot”–where the original content fits the brand’s message, appeals to a broad audience and is relevant to the consumer’s culture. 

Or as Mike Wiese, Head of Content and Entertainment at J. Walter Thompson says, “We [should] think more about what audiences want to watch and spend time with, and less about the brand or product attribute and how that gets showcased.”

Branded content can be done through a few ways, which include:


Sponsorship is perhaps the most traditional and certainly the least invasive way for a brand to connect with an audience. Digital content that starts with “Brought to you by…“ “Your proud sponsor” is what many of us know. Nissan was a title sponsor for Gamma Blast’s online series, “Beneath the Ice”, which took viewers behind-the-scenes with the Nashville Predators hockey team to get a sense of the players’ lives on and off the ice.

“Beneath the Ice” generated more than a million unique visitors in its 12-episode season (not counting the mobile and app viewings). Total exposure of “Beneath the Ice” included running on Fox Sports during the game broadcast intermission, social media teasers and promotion, in-stadium broadcast, viewings on the Predators' website and the team’s app. The Nissan logo was watermarked (seen below) in the corner of entire series and its products were integrated into the show. The voice-over talent mentioned, “Presented by Nissan” to start off the show.


Native Advertising

Native advertising, also called advertorial, means that the branded content is seeking to emulate the editorial environment around it. For example, we created this educational content for Alexia frozen foods that shows how to make quick weeknight meals.

Other examples of native advertising include a YouTube video with more than 9 million views on how McDonald's styles the Big Mac for photo shoots, or Oreo‘s rainbow cream posts to celebrate Gay Pride Month, which generated nearly 300k Facebook Likes.

Brand-centric Original Content

In this type of branded content, the product or service specifically highlights the brand itself. Think of the wildly popular Lego Movie, or creation of a Shark Observation Cage from a Volkswagen Beetle for Discovery Channel‘s Shark Week to improve the popularity of the Beetle among men. Volkswagen's agency said sales of the car to men increased by 20% after the television, online and social media campaign.


The more stories that are told like this about the success of branded content, the easier it will be for CMOs to achieve C-suite buy-in. We’d love to hear how you’ve had success selling in content marketing. Contact me @gammaliz on Twitter, or

Liz Denning is owner of Gamma Blast Media, creators of video campaigns for mid- to large B2C companies . Their work  make brands more interesting, engaging and shareable.