It wasn’t so long ago that brands relied on traditional advertising to engage with their customers. But with the explosion of digital streaming services, like Amazon Prime, many brands are now relying on TV-style content to reach their audience. Based on a recent study by Brightcove, 61% of retail brands are turning towards ‘lean back’ content. Although it might sound like the latest marketing buzzword, there’s no denying that it’s on the rise. The same report highlighted 85% of retailers are looking to reach their audience from the comfort of their living room.
This kind of content is designed to be consumed passively, which is similar to ‘leaning back’ to watch a television. As more businesses invest in this style of advertising, it’s becoming a testing ground for new ideas. But is this kind of content effective, and if so, how can your brand make use of it?
Who’s creating lean-back content?
The delivery platform Hungryhouse recently commissioned a ‘mockumentary’ video series called From Chow Mein to Fame, which featured friends Jay and David. It follows their rise to ‘fame’ after starring in Hungryhouse’s street-cast 2016 ad. It makes use of the popularity of reality TV to advertise a takeaway service. The comedy approach comes down to individual taste. Some consumers may have found the series funny, while some might have been alienated by the reality TV angle.
Iceland have gone for a combination of online and traditional TV advertising. They brought out ‘Eat the Week’, hosted by chef Simon Rimmer, a 10-episode series broadcast on Channel 4. The show is based around how to cook healthy meals using frozen food products. In each episode, Rimmer is filmed with a different family, taking on common food challenges.
Instead of simply advertising Iceland products, the show aims to dispel common assumptions about frozen food being unhealthy. Iceland have used a famous chef to promote their brand, giving the viewer the chance to ‘lean back’ and absorb the content at their leisure.
Iceland also have an active YouTube channel, which features recipes from the show. It taps into the trend of people preferring to watch content after it’s aired.
However, the question of authenticity needs to be addressed. There’s a danger that the TV show can feel like excessive product placement. And would Rimmer use Iceland products in his everyday life?
Hungryhouse and Iceland have created some interesting content, but it highlights the fine line between authenticity and creating memorable content.
How can your brand leverage lean-back content?
To ensure your brand can make the most of lean-back content, you’ll need to find a balance between authenticity and not coming across like you’re pushing a product. The key is to target the right kind of demographic, whether you’re advertising to millennials or baby boomers.
Being able to target your audience at the right time can make a difference. If you’re a fashion brand and there’s a show coming up, you could create content around the clothes that guests or presenters are wearing.
Another important factor is that you should never be afraid to experiment. You could trial a piece of content with a select group of people before broadcasting it. If it isn’t well received, then at least you’ve identified what doesn’t work.
Only time will tell if lean back content becomes the future of TV advertising, but it still has a long way to go.
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