Interview with UM’s Scott Donaton

Interview with UM’s Scott Donaton

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This is the latest in a series of interviews by BCMA UK Advisory Board member Justin Kirby has been conducting as part our Best of Branded Content Marketing (BOBCM) partnership. We are syndicating the interviews that Justin has conducted with BCMA members and partners, and the latest is with  UM‘s Chief Content Officer Scott Donaton. He’s on the advisory board of the BCMA North America, the former editor of Ad Age, author of Madison and Vine: Why the Entertainment and Advertising Industries Must Converge to Survive, and President of the Cannes Lions Branded Content & Entertainment Jury in 2013.  The interview was originally conducted as part of series of interviews with other industry experts that Justin put together for my WTF is branded content? It’s complicated article for Contagious. We’ve included the full interview here as part of a series that Justin hopes will prompt further discussion about what branded content is and isn’t, and how is it is different from branded entertainment, content marketing and all the other related terms being bandied about like native advertising.

Scott sees Branded Content, Branded Entertainment, Content Marketing and even the likes of Native Advertising as being part of the same content spectrum and thinks the beauty is that there’s no one clear definition of what it is:

Broadly speaking, it’s all about what does a brand have to say that’s of value to an audience and what are they ways that they tell those stories.

He explains that there’s also whole number of ways that people are using technology and innovation to tell stories and create experiences now. For example, Scott mentions that within the UM Studios Group there are people working on initiatives that would be more recognizable branded content, such as TV shows, web episodes, or short films. At the same time, he says there are people creating music experiences like a live venue for Jack Daniels in the UK, and even working with Oculus Rift Virtual Reality technologies. Scott thinks all of these are legitimate ways of helping brands communicate their stories in new ways to an audience. However, in the context of an award show he thinks it becomes more difficult to decide what fits in one category and what doesn’t, although he points out that this does vary from award show to award show:

Many of the things we think about as being really great pieces of content are often being awarded at shows such as Cannes by seven, eight, even nine different juries, all legitimately.

That’s why Scott thinks that it’s easy for a branded content jury to say something is also film, or is also print, or is also experiential, or whatever other category it might also legitimately belong in. The challenge, as he sees it, is for a branded content jury to look at a body of work through a different lens than another jury might be using for another award. For Scott, there’s no one answer to this, but he understands that one of the ways this year’s jury at Cannes addressed it was to look at whether there was a storyline that runs through the work…

Scott has recently been appointed as Chief Content Officer at DigitasLBi, and you can read full interview with him here, or more interviews by Justin on the BOBCM site he curates in partnership with the BCMA.