SXSW Day 4: Cutting hair and off the cuff

Screen shot 2012-03-10 at 8.03.52 PM.jpgGrant Hunter, regional creative director APAC of Iris Worldwide - who divides his time between Singapore and London - is at SXSW in Austin, Texas this week, and reports exclusively for Campaign Brief.

On day four I focused on branded content and socially powered comedy. I started the day with a brand journalism panel where the general discussion weaved around the difference between brand journalism and corporate coms. The key take out seemed to be that brand journalism reports on the wider picture a combination of outside voices and the inner voice of the brand/company.

day 4.jpgTraditionally PR functions want to control the message where as a journalist wants to convey the message.

In the era of PR'able ideas and the creation of branded content it seems imperative that from a creative advertising perspective we adopt more of an editorial point of view.

Total spend is up 60% in the US and clients are looking for articles that engage and they are willing to spend more on 'content' .

A panel later in the day focused on the power of branded documentaries. It looked at P&Gs Pantene beautiful lengths campaign. The biggest anxiety for women who are diagnosed with the disease is the fear of losing their hair.

Beautiful Lengths supplies real hair wigs to those sufferers. It is run in conjunction with the American Cancer Society. Last year they donated 12,000 wigs. The branded documentary approach was chosen as the best way to tell the human stories behind the initiative. The campaign has ignited a movement and hair cutting events have sprung up around the country.

The documentary film makers 'Flow non fiction' visited one school where 195 girls had signed up to get their hair cut. Budgets were tight (they didn't actually say how much) so the film was shot in a day and a half in Londonderry.

The constraint allowed them to show the community around the cause illustrated by one school. The panel discussed why branded doc was the right way to go.They gave the following advice: If the role of the brand isn't cinematically interesting then you shouldn't force it.

Ask yourself "Are you in it for the long term?"

The cutting party at the school wasn't created by them it happened organically so finding that was key. The haircut moment - joy or tears it's a signature moment where the donors give of themselves.

Don't tell them show them. The thing women feared most is losing their hair - the film made the stats real/human so great for PR and hitting influencers.

artist 1.jpgI then jumped from moving human drama to a little bit of light relief. Jon Burkhart, our iris Social Media Creative Director, presented the Not So Allied Forces Of Social Comedy.

The dual panel featured Jon with Will Saunders the head of BBC Comedy online. They showcased innovations from the US comedy scene from the likes of Comedy Central and TV innovations such as Zee box and Miso. Jon then talked about the opportunity of creating comedy that hijacks the News.

He shared The Artistifier, an UrgentGenius creation, which rode the Oscars trending wave. The site converts anyYouTube film to black and white, overlays The Artist music and allows you to add your own captions. It has had over 170,000 visits.


Will then went on to give us a peek of a pilot comedy show called @CuffLive. @CuffLive takes the Urgent Genius principles and real-time tools to create a new socially enabled comedy format.

The pitch tape showed the test event they ran in London at a comedy club. Three comics were subjected to challenges powered by the audience's social networks. It looked like an updated improv comedy show for the social age. I particularly liked the segment where they picked one audience's Facebook page and created a series of sketches using her status updates. I'm interested to see how this develops.

The BBC has been a great breeding ground for UK talent if they take learnings from the US and build on it I'm sure we'll see some interesting results.


DS said:

These reports are very interesting Grant.
SXSW is looking like a must attend festival.

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