There is little doubt that personalised, branded content is the direction that many brands are heading towards. Consumer expectation is now such that they require increasingly tailored content across all of the platforms on which they engage with a brand. For a brand, their goal – by producing this targeted content – is that viewers become customers, and customers become ambassadors for them.


Anush Prabhu, Chief Strategy Officer at MediaCom USA said this of branded content, ‘First, content must be relevant and engaging, not just funny, beautiful or packed with celebrities. Data can help brands make content more personalised than ever before. Far beyond the practice of dynamic creative optimisation (DCO), we are approaching a point at which we will be able to produce truly cinematic content driven by an individual’s interest and need state. Brands that know how to bring messages forward for different audiences, coupled with technology and data, will win’.


Taco Bell, the American fast food chain, has done just this. Specifically, they have targeted YouTube as a platform where they want to increase their audience. Across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter the brand can boast followers/likes of approximately 13 million, and last year they set a new record on Snapchat where a specially created lens was viewed 224million times in just 24 hours. However, on YouTube they have a relatively small subscriber base of 59,000. Taco Bell are now creating scripted, branded video content especially for YouTube. ‘Taco Tales’ is the brands first venture into branded content, and is a video series shown on YouTube. 


Basing the Taco Tales on customer stories, Taco Bell are (with some artistic interpretation), bringing them to life on screen. Paul Tremain, Content Development Director at Mediacon, said. ‘We have various large scale opportunities in development in the form of formatted social video series, both short and long form brand funded video and television series, but are also keen to explore potential for our brands with interactive Facebook live formats as well as looking to how we might work with the likes of Amazon and Netflix to create big and ambitious branded entertainment projects as these platforms emerge and offer relevant reach for certain brands’. In the case of Taco Bell, they have highlighted YouTube as their preferred platform of choice for showing this new content. While teaser content is available elsewhere online, – Twitter, for example – in order to watch the video series you have to do so via YouTube’.

Taco Bell have used consumer stories as the basis of their branded content for a key reason. The brand has the belief that authenticity is crucial. By this, they mean producing content that creates an emotional connection with their customers. What better way to do this than to use customers own stories as the foundation for their branded content? If you had submitted a story to Taco Bell and then saw it played out on a video, your affinity for that brand vastly increases. Because of the control a brand has over their own content, they can be relatively agile in terms of changes, reacting to stories wherever they find them to create new content.


“It’s not different than the lens we need to put on ourselves as human beings. What’s the authentic expression of yourself that gets people to want to engage? It’s the same thing for brands — finding the authenticity within the brand’s persona. We still believe in TV. Our brand is mass, but I like to tell deeper stories too and engage in fun ways. The challenge is how to do the whole thing. That’s made the job of a marketer harder,” says Marisa Thalberg, Chief Marketing Officer at Taco Bell.

This is original content that focuses on telling a story. They are focusing on finding new ways to create stories that resonate with their customer base. Yes, it is quite apparent throughout each episode what brand has created it, but Taco Bell are clearly hoping people will watch due to interest in the series itself. This type of branded content, content that is subtle in its delivery, is becoming more popular – alibaba.com, for example, launched their own branded content TV series at the end of 2016. *


Clearly creating this type of content, versus more traditional advertising, where product/service/offer are clearly and overtly shown, is a calculated risk. Brands would have conducted research before commissioning such content, and allowed the resulting insight drive their creative direction. Seth Godin, a much revered marketer, says ‘People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.”

Brands that have done this type of consumer research have obviously found something similar, as they create branded content that no longer presents blatant messages to their customers. Brands have recognised connecting with their customers on a more emotive level will increase brand awareness and loyalty, which is hugely critical if content, such as Taco Tales, is to be successful. 


Getting the insight in order to create branded content that resonates with the consumer takes time and effort, but it is worth it if you want the content to thrive.

If you want to know how to gain the type of insight into your customers that can allow you to create resonating, emotional, story driven branded content, then talk to us. We’ve created branded content, TV and video, that has resulted in unparalleled successes for those brands – let us do the same for you.

* For the purposes of clarity, alibaba.com are a Hub client and we worked on the mentioned branded content TV series.