Marriage or prostitution? Lego client challenges brands on approach to content marketing

A senior brand manager at Lego likened companies that deluge consumers with branded content to prostitutes at an event in Singapore today.

Eileen Chan, Janice Chan and Kevin Hagino at Millennial 2020 today

Bolt Media’s Eileen Chan, Starwood’s Janice Chan and Kevin Hagino of Lego at Millennial 2020

Talking on a panel at the Millennial 2020 conference hosted by content marketing platform Bolt Media, Kevin Hagino, senior regional brand manager for Lego Southeast Asia, said that it has become so easy for brands to produce content these days, with so many channels to put it in, that many were succumbing to the temptation of “throwing” it at consumers without a clear strategy.

“There’s so much [content marketing] out there and it’s become so easy to do it. The filter is less,” said Hagino.

The difference in approach brands are taking to content is like comparing marriage and prostitution, he suggested. “Some brands are essentially prostituting themselves by throwing their brand and their content at consumers and desperately saying ‘watch me’. They’ll do anything or say anything to get people to watch it,” he said.

Lego's 'Rebuild' SG50 film

Lego’s ‘Rebuild’ SG50 film

“But if you think about marriage, there’s a reason why it makes sense. It’s a long term relationship that you’re trying to nurture.”

“It’s become far too easy to prostitute ourselves because of all the platforms out there,” he said.

Hagino, who was part of the team that produced Lego’s highly awarded ‘Rebuild’ film around SG50 last year, began the session by saying that few marketers have absolute clarity on where content marketing is going. “We’re all still trying to figure it out, and the landscape is changing so fast,” he said.

Starwood's platform

Starwood’s platform

Hagino was sharing a panel with Janice Chan, director of digital marketing for Starwood Hotels and Resorts, a company that moved a large chunk of its budget from traditional advertising into content marketing at the start of the year with the launch of the travel platform

Chan was similarly dismissive of brands that have taken the path well travelled in their attempts to become publishers.

“There is a lot of crap branded content out there,” she said at the start of the session. “Everyone is wondering if they should get the intern to do the content, or regurgitate all the old stuff they had in print and push it all online. It’s a problem.”

“How many ‘top 10 places to visit before you die’ lists have you seen?” she asked her audience. “As a travel brand, the key is to provide useful, valuable content.”

Chan explained that the idea behind, which panel moderator Eileen Chan, co-founder of Bolt Media, had pointed out featured only a small logo at the foot of the page, was to “break through the noise with content that you can’t just find anywhere.”

“We also didn’t brand it Starwood because we consciously didn’t want to sell,” she said of the platform that was launched in collaboration with iProspect and John Brown.

“We want to provide interesting, valuable information, and we work with a network of content creators and influencers, all of whom are leaders in their field, to bring in their opinions and a fresh perspective.”

Talking about the genesis of Lego’s ‘Rebuild’ campaign, Hagino said that the idea was to create a piece of digitally led content that asked what the future of Singapore might look like.

“We asked what was special about Singapore. What we were able to develop was a brief on a single piece of paper that was so articulate I wanted to frame it. This was the inspiration for us, and our agency [Iris Singapore].”

“We didn’t want to just celebrate Singapore. We wanted to shake up the nation, and ask is what is happening in Singapore actually right – which was a very different point of view to what a lot of other [SG50] campaigns were taking,” he said.

Hagino made clear his views not only on content marketing, but on the industry’s obsession with digital. Though ‘Rebuild’ was a digitally-led campaign, he implored his audience not to see digital as a strategy.

“Digital is just a medium, and I feel like we put it on an alter. Our strategy wasn’t digital. It was to touch hearts and build the brand.”

The Lego ‘Rebuild’ campaign was shortlisted today for the Warc Prize for Asian Strategy.



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