Cultural Intelligence Helps Branded Content Deliver Business Results

Cultural intelligence is an invaluable way to cut through the clutter and deliver campaign results. That’s why, as the media landscape becomes increasingly fragmented and mobile audiences grow harder to reach, cultural intelligence should sit at the core of content production and distribution.Culturally relevant storytelling is even more critical for success when creating branded content. As organic reach continues to decrease, a solid paid-media strategy becomes paramount to deliver the kind of business results our brand partners have come to expect.

But sponsoring content without adequately harnessing the cultural connections between desired audiences and IP is pointless. Uncovering insights and matching them with campaign objectives optimizes the paid media strategy. In other words, culturally relevant branded storytelling gives brands more bang for their buck.

We discussed the topic at a recent Incite Group Brand Marketing & Advertising Summit, a Reuters Event in New York City, during the panel “How Media Companies Are Evolving the Business, Art, and Science of Social Branded Content.”

Representing Viacom Velocity’s Cultural Intelligence team on stage — along with colleagues from BuzzFeed, Condé Nast, Facebook, and Live Nation — I shared how Viacom’s iconic brands have historically developed deep cultural connections to their audiences. It has been true from the very first MTV Video Music Awards over three decades ago to today’s Gen Z–centric digital content coming out of recently acquired Awesomeness TV.

I also shared anecdotes about the work our creative strategy and cultural intelligence team is activating when we’re in the development stages of ideating for a campaign. Our team is tasked with uncovering audience and content insights; we then fuse the findings with information on how a target audience connects culturally with Viacom’s IP, while keeping our partners’ campaign objectives at the core.

One of the most exciting aspects of the brands we have in our portfolio is that our fans are inherently passionate and engaged, which, in turn, makes our branded content efforts far more efficient and effective. Not only does our IP reflect the audiences that consume it, but it also starts culturally-relevant conversations that create change.

Our fans are co-creators of culture, along with our brands. So, not only is our IP developing, but our fans are fueling it, which is a highly effective formula and one of the reasons brands come to us in the first place. They want to be part of the conversation.

During the panel, I shared how we’ve received a wave of briefs this year on how we can reach multicultural audiences — and that our team is hard at work uncovering new insights about these fans and how they’re impacting outcomes for many of our brand partners. We have a team dedicated to studying trends in youth culture to future-proof how we connect our brands to these audiences. We’re excited to see what this team develops in the coming year.

In short, cultural intelligence is and will be core to our campaign development. But it doesn’t just stop at the ideation stage for us; we also need to make sure that our strategies are tied to measurement and outcomes.

The strategy helps us understand whether the creative we’re developing is working for our clients. My team’s analysts work to dig into fan sentiment and creative effectiveness. We tap into a series of social intelligence tools to uncover fans’ emotional reactions to our branded content, as we build and optimize those findings for future programs.

We are fortunate to work with such iconic brands that have a real impact on culture at various stages of life. Our fans are our brand ambassadors, so achieving a cultural connection with them is extremely important for the branded content we develop.

Viacom’s unique type of branded content is all about culturally relevant storytelling that cuts through the clutter and reaches a majority of young and multicultural audiences across experiential, linear, OTT, social, and more, delivering measurable business results for our brand partners.

About Author

Karen Vega is the Senior Director of Creative Strategy & Cultural Intelligence at Viacom Velocity— Viacom’s branded content studio. Karen heads up a social foresights intelligence team at Velocity.

First appeared in Media Village

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