Tom Curtis: why ‘Content + Connections’ will make 2015 the best year yet for MBA UK
Tom Curtis, Head of MediaCom Beyond Advertising UK, speaks about how we’ve changed in the last year and why ‘Content + Connections’ are so important for us and our clients| January 7th, 2015
MediaCom’s repositioning as the Content + Connections agency has been huge for MediaCom Beyond Advertising
We started seeing a change almost immediately. Great content is critical to a campaign’s success and our ability to create and distribute that content hasn’t changed. What has changed is the impact our recognition and understanding has had – and in turn the understanding of our clients – on how and why one piece of content must relate to, and is designed to affect, another piece of content. This means that the strategy and execution of our content in a connected system is different to the strategy and execution of content in a world of silos. No longer do we develop content ideas in isolation. We need to know, and be able to justify, how those ideas work across all areas of MBA – be it social, SEO, partnerships etc.
MBA is now being involved much earlier in the briefing and planning process
And that’s also because of Content + Connections. To create a brilliant Content + Connections strategy you need your communications and content strategies working as one. But let’s remember that in the world of Content + Connections ‘content’ isn’t just the excellent work we do in MediaCom Beyond Advertising. In Content + Connections ‘content’ also includes more traditional forms of advertising. But what’s crucial is that traditional advertising (a 30 second spot for example) must also be part of a connected system that includes owned and earned media, which are MBA’s heartland.
Being involved early is making a huge difference to the scale and quality of the work we produce. Campaigns such as the Bose Urban Conductor saw us conceiving, producing and distributing an end-to-end content campaign in which practically every function of MBA played a part.
The cornerstone our new approach is the 3 ‘i’s content framework
Our aim is that our content inspires, informs and involves and this is something our clients are now really buying into. But it is the strategy behind our content that must determine which pieces of content should focus on which of the 3 ‘i’s. It is rare for one piece of content to achieve all three.
Partnerships have become a key part of what we do
In fact, if considered by its loosest definition, most projects we undertake include some form of partnership, be it with a media owner partner, a production partner or a distribution partner.
We approach content creation by first developing an integrated content idea and then determine the best way to deliver it. This could result in original content production or in partnership production. But sometimes these two approaches cross paths and the Siemens project with the Times, launched late in the year, is a good example of that. In that instance we devised an idea of inviting celebrities to come up with a fantasy guest list for their ultimate dinner party and then talk us through the menu as they prepared their food using a range of Siemens kitchen appliances. We went on to produce the videos ourselves, arranged the talent directly with their agents (our videos featured Phillip Schofield, Gabby Logan and Alexander Armstrong). We then worked with the Times on a supporting advertorial partnership and on distribution, benefiting from the reach and influence the Times was able to provide.
Our clients are really starting to appreciate the importance of quality content
What’s more, a lot of our clients – particularly the larger ones – are devoting more and more of their budget to creating exciting, original content or partnerships with credible publications and websites. In most cases, no longer are we just playing with the 10% innovation pot.
We’ve also spent a lot of time developing close relationships with digital influencers
It means we’re able to amplify our work effectively to millions of potential customers through people they trust and who give authenticity to the messages. And as we know, in this arena success only comes if the message is authentic. The likes of Jim Chapman and Tanya Burr gave our Bose Urban Conductor campaign a huge boost, while the launch of the campaign was also attended by TV actors, presenters and industry A-listers – but only those who were relevant to the product and the brand.
It’s been a big year for me personally
I’ve stepped away from the role of Creative Director to become the Head of MediaCom Beyond Advertising UK. This has been a big change for me and not just because I’ve replaced my big powerful MacBook Pro with a slim, easy-to-carry MacBook Air. My change in role has allowed me to take a step back and refocus myself and the team on a new approach for 2015. In the UK we are adopting the new global MBA positioning and structuring ourselves around content strategy, content creation and content distribution. In the past we were a little more siloed than that – with functions such as social, partnerships, events etc all as separate teams and all working independently of each other on some projects and together on others. Collaboration is the name of the game in 2015, not just within MBA itself but also with our colleagues in the rest of MediaCom.
Another benefit of now running the team is that by already managing a bunch of hugely talented people, I have been able to identify where the opportunities are to add to our workforce in a really positive way.
I’m now focused on building an even better team and making sure people are fulfilling their potential within in the right roles
It’s been a great few years but with everything now in place to grow and to produce even better and increasingly ambitious work, 2015 should be the best year yet for MediaCom Beyond Advertising UK.
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