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How to best get your brand involved with Big Brother

How to best get your brand involved with Big Brother

By Keith Ducatel – Managing Partner at Article 10 Integrated Marketing – a recently launched creative start-up that focuses its service offerings on brand and identity.
The Big Brother brand is a volatile one - few elements are consistent as the content is created by the contestants, chosen for their extremes. Thus there are no restrictions on the subject matters that may be potentially projected to the audience.

Along with manipulative production, it is critical that brand affiliation is carefully considered - the major pitfall is uncontrollable outcomes, such as when Carphone Warehouse withdrew £3m of sponsorship after Shilpa Shetty was allegedly racially abused by other contestants.  
There are advantages of aligning with the big Brother Brand – predominantly, the mass reach of the brand through all types of media and multiple formats of TV – plus merchandising and product placement. There are few brands that offer such a strong multi platform marketing opportunity.

Further, when the show has finished, individual contestants can become valuable marketing commodities. But in this case, the brand manager can affiliate with the contestant that has a particular set of attributes that align with the brand they represent.

The main advantage and most important above all others is the plain fact that virtually every brand that has affiliated with Big Brother yields significant increases in turnover. 
Brands that should see Big Brother as an opportunity to affiliate with are those that fit with the demographic reach of the programme. These are normally mass consumable brands aimed at the mid to lower end of the demographic scale. Pizza Hut, Blockbusters, Pepsi, KFC have all affiliated at different levels. 
Brands that would not benefit therefore are at the other end of the demographic scale – brands whose audiences are more aware of political, social, environmental and racial issues and align these as attributes in their personal brands, their lifestyle brands and thus would either be very secretive about an interest in Big Brother or denounce the format altogether.

Thus a conscious brand aiming at aligning with this audience should not affiliate to Big Brother. Essentially, the brand messages are tightly controlled and have taken many years of developing. Apple, Rolls Royce, Gucci and BMW have made major investments in creating lifestyle brands and thus would not affiliate with Big Brother.
If a brand is worried about things going wrong then they should not consider affiliating, as control of outcomes and target messaging is nonexistent. We can make this judgment now as our experience with the Big Brother brand has grown and thus our understanding of potential brand contamination has dramatically increased. This said, there is a way of making a positive from a negative.

If something happens on the show that is controversial and deemed unacceptable, an associate brand can launch a decontamination campaign, actually leveraging brand coverage by delivering strong messaging against the controversy, essentially making the brand look good.

This, however is a very risky strategy and should be planned carefully as opposed to implemented with a knee jerk reaction to the situation.
Reality shows still hold appeal for viewers and value for brands. Broadcasters are still commissioning them and production companies are still making them. The trend for these shows will diminish over the next 2 -5 years but for now, there is still value to be had exploiting these multi platform marketing phenomenas.

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