In many ways it appears that PepsiCo and Mondelēz are taking a big gamble by investing so heavily in content production. These companies are best known for making fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate, yet they are now positioning themselves as elite content makers in their own right, comparable to Hollywood studios or successful games developers.
In reality, neither PepsiCo, which has opened a 4,000-square foot production studio in New York, nor Mondelēz, which is planning to sell a suite of branded mobile games, are taking these steps without due consideration. Both FMCG behemoths have taken a look at the current media landscape and decided that investing in original content is a bet they need to make to ensure the future relevance of their brands.
This is not surprising given the mounting evidence that suggests consumers are not engaging with – or are simply ignoring – other forms of advertising. Recent research by eye-tracking firm Lumen found that only 9% of digital ads receive more than a second’s worth of attention from consumers. The IAB’s latest ad blocking report in July also found that over a fifth (21%) of British adults are using ad blocking software.
Such data suggests it is getting more difficult to reach audiences online, so brands are turning to original content in the hope of rebuilding their connection with consumers. The success of this strategy will depend on the types of content that brands produce and how they attempt to market themselves around it.
Consumers know when they are being sold to, so a TV show by PepsiCo littered with product placements for its brands simply will not work. The early signs are that PepsiCo and Mondelēz are wise to this challenge, with both companies forming partnerships with established content players to lend themselves credibility.
Both corporations hope their original content productions will generate revenues that can fund their own, more traditional marketing activities. This goes to show that in an age when the accountability of marketing is greater than ever, and the access to data is booming, marketing no longer has the luxury simply to spend. It is increasingly expected to earn its keep.