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Like Minds Agree: It’s Time to Elevate Brand Storytelling

A group of sixteen people, including brand marketers, agencies, media companies and two lawyers, got together in the boardroom of The Lodges at Deer Valley during Sundance Film Festival this January. The topic of discussion focused on common pain and stress points being experienced throughout the industry related to the business of brand-funded content creation and distribution. I had the opportunity to listen in on this discussion and what really impressed me was the shared passion amongst the group for growing the business, mixed with equal amounts of frustration - clear signs of a burgeoning industry in need of organization.

This meeting at Sundance lasted a couple of hours, then spilled out into the parties, bars and ski slopes for the next couple of days. In the weeks that followed, a movement began to take shape with the realization that the issues that hinder productivity today will not be lessened on their own. Without guidelines, standards, best practices and tools, this business of branded content (which itself is begging for definition) will continue to bump along a potholed road.

Scott Donaton, Chief Content Officer at Digitas, wrote a “call to arms” editorial published two weeks ago, imploring industry players to organize:

“[Content] can mean almost anything. And it can come from almost anyone: media agencies, ad agencies, talent agencies, media publishers, studios, production companies. It can be borrowed, or owned or a blurry in-between. And because the approaches to create, track and measure are as broad as the spectrum of content genres, there’s no clearly defined content industry. No agreed-upon benchmarks. No recognized trade association to give shape and definition to this important segment. But those things are needed. And they’re needed now.”

Tomorrow, industry players will be meeting at The World Surf League Headquarters in Santa Monica (thank you WSL for hosting!) for a social mixer and town hall discussion aimed at these organizing concepts. Scott Donaton, along with Shannon Pruitt (President of The Story Lab NA), will share their ideas in conjunction with others from Nestlé, Disney, Initiative, UM Studios, ZEFR, CAA and more. Together, these companies will discuss how to elevate the business of branded content and create a smoother road ahead, paving the way for increased brand investment in the creation and distribution of content.

This is only the beginning. Next, we’d like you to join the movement! Send an email to and let us know how you’d like to participate and contribute to elevating the business of branded content.


-- Watch for weekly news updates from Brand Storytelling in your inbox, and share this with other storytellers in your network. Of course, if you’d like to contribute to the story, We'd love to hear from you. Email us!

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