Serif Creative

Branded Content Campaigns are Dead for Consumer Brands

One-off projects and branded content campaigns are dead for consumer brands.


We now live in a world where consumers demand content on a daily basis. The glory days of the Don Draper era of advertising are gone. Building a campaign strategy, producing a multi-million dollar 30 second broadcast spot, chucking it over the fence, and kicking your feet back for the rest of the year doesn’t cut it with today’s audience. While there are occasions where contained one-and-done marketing still works, it’s just not as effective as it used to be.

The traditional model leveraged campaigns and relied on the “big three”: Broadcast, Print, and Radio. Months and months of leg work went into preparing and executing in-depth campaigns which created peaks (at the start) and valleys (as they matured) throughout the year.

Back in the 1940’s, ad agencies didn’t know how to “think” about commercials. All they knew was how to produce print and radio ads, so they used those same approaches when television became mainstream. On-screen talent would read a card and deliver the message, like a radio ad. It sounds so foolish that they approached television advertising that way, but we’ll look back at our current era and have a similar feeling about campaigns.


The “big three”, however, were no match for the 2000’s when social media really took hold. Fast forward to today, there now are endless digital channels that extend far beyond just the dominant channels:


Then there is paid, unpaid, and earned media: organic, influencer marketing, PR, email marketing, blogging, guest blogging. The list goes on and on. A single creative project won’t fit all of the above channels. To be successful, a brand needs ongoing attention to keep it present in an increasingly noisy environment.

These touchpoints are the new normal:

  1. A content framework — (content by delivery channel)
  2. Truth — (authenticity that connects to the audience)
  3. A strategic map — (methodology for reaching a brand’s audience)
  4. A content studio — (an ally capable of producing the volume of creative needed for all of the channels)

The same mistakes ad executives made producing commercials like radio ads in the 1940’s is repeating itself today: brands are approaching content for campaigns using an outdated framework. Most brands don’t know how to “think” about content except from the perspective of a campaign.


We know that in today’s media environment, producing a single A+ production, 30-second broadcast spot and blindly pushing it through email, digital, and social channels isn’t effective. That’s wasted effort and wasted dollars.

Quality and excellence are keystones at Serif. However, not all creative is created equal. There is a time and place for 10/10, first class creative, but volume is often more important. Some social content has the lifespan of a mayfly, a lifespan of less than 24 hours, and some content can be seen for less than 5 seconds by a specific audience, so treating it like a Super Bowl commercial probably isn’t the best strategy.

The goal is on-going, continued engagement. Campaigns don’t give you that with their peaks and valleys, but a content studio approach does. There are great examples of brands killing it with this model today: P&Co, Adidas, MailChimp, and EverLane just to name a few.

These brands are ahead of the curve in their transition from campaigns to a content studio model very similar to the kind we offer here at Serif.

Campaigns are dead. Long live the content studio.


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