Trending Topics & Current Events: “Editorial Only” No Longer
How creative agencies and brands are integrating current events and social change themes into their advertising
Over the past year, one of the biggest creative themes we have seen is brands adapting their messaging to incorporate trending and current events—and in doing so, becoming a part of the social, global conversation. This has led to an enormous spike in usage of licensed content that has historically been classified as “editorial only.”
Themes such as social injustice, pandemic recovery, even climate change are picking up steam in advertising messaging as corporations strive for meaningful change. For example, tech behemoth Microsoft pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030, remove their historical carbon emissions by 2050, and is donating one billion dollars to the climate innovation fund over the next four years.
As more brands and creative production shops seek content reflecting current world events and trending topics, they face challenges in not only locating the material, but determining what’s viable for licensing, clearance, and much more. To help navigate the process, here are some things to keep in mind.
In the past, traditional “editorial only” was off the table for advertising. Most producers understand how frustrating it can be to find the perfect clip from a news segment that cannot be approved or cleared. But times have changed, coinciding with the popularity of this content and respective trends. I often say that all content can be considered for all usages in today’s immersive production world. While consideration is only one part of the equation, the secondary levels of final clearances are also more attainable than people may imagine.
Despite our rich history and collaboration with news partners, Veritone Licensing does not have editorial rights classifications. Since editorial material can feature third party copyright we carefully vet selections through our approval process to ensure licensability. The process can be complex and arduous with many upfront details required, but we’re here to guide our clients throughout the way.
How to use tending topics safely in ad campaigns
Brands and agencies who want to start utilizing editorial content creatively need to strike the right balance between risk and reward. Topics like social justice and climate change can be extremely polarizing for audiences, however, it comes down to how the message is framed.
The key is to remain positive and neutral, this will help hedge against any sort of negative blowback that can jeopardize brand safety. Second, maintaining the original editorial context is critical to avoid any “skewing” of the facts or issue. When you align your brand with a global issue or special interest group, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to your core audience. We have seen several brands do this well over the last several months including:
The benefits of using non-stock footage in advertisements
The most obvious benefit of leveraging premium content is a key creative differentiator—one that can make a unique campaign pop. Recently, we saw two brands make the mistake of using the same stock footage clip during the Super Bowl. This led to embarrassment for those involved during the most watched sporting event of the year.
When you incorporate trending topics and news content into your advertisements, the reward of timely messaging outweighs the risk. An NBCU survey from late last year found that consumers want brands to advertise at the same level as they were before the pandemic with a desire for them to acknowledge current events. 81 percent stated that they would more likely make a purchase from a brand if they helped people when they needed it most, which is something we have seen with the Helpful Honda spots in recent years.
How to integrate current events into your next ad campaign
We predict the use of news content in creative messaging will only continue to grow as brands increasingly participate in the social conversation, by empowering global and social change. Just remember that authenticity is key. Consumers are quick to sniff out when a brand is not being entirely genuine. Align your messaging with your organization’s core values and stay consistent!