Why would anybody choose to launch a content agency in the middle of 2018???? Type content agency London into google and 291,000,000 hits come up. I got tired of counting how many specific agencies there are doing it when i got past 500. Every PR Agency, Ad Agency, Media buying agency, one-man-band, two-man-band and client, yes even client for god's sake, say they can make content so surely the market has reached saturation point? Nobody can want so much content can they? Of course they can, which is why we have just launched JSRContent, a new player on the block with some rather interesting credentials.
But this isn't about us, it's about what the hell content actually is and why it's gone from zero to hero in terms of marketing comms over the past 5 years or so. Why have Nike contributed to over 90 hours of content marketing in the past year and around 9 minutes of traditional ATL creative? How come people, are happier to watch moving content in a square shape barely 2 inches across on a device that lives in their pocket, rather than a mega-sized, mega-quality screen in their living room?
In 2012, the global marketing marketing director of PepsiCo stood up at Cannes and declared that he saw the future of 30 second TVC's as a trailer, or gateway into in his brand's on-line and digital content. Oh how we laughed, but no one's laughing now, as ad revenue tilts from ATL in favour of digital advertising for the first time in 2018. Actually Facebook and Google are laughing.
So how and why has this happened?
There are clearly lots of answers - technology, millennials (it's always millennials), but the one that seems to strike home with me, is the innate human demand for stories and storytelling. From our origins around campfires and caves, the human need to tell and listen to stories is an essential part of our existence. I read or make up stories to my kids before they go to sleep, I don't give them 30 second bite-size trailers. As people, we devour engaging tales of adventure, love and humour. We want to be engaged, to be taken to another place, to let our imaginations soar, and that can only happen over time not in an instant.
Traditional TV advertising, which, lest we forget, has only been around since the 1950s was defined by the gaps between TV shows, and forced into bite-sized pieces of salesmanship. When I worked in TV, I kept asking the question, 'why are we making 30 second and 10 second trailers?', and the scheduling team would always answer, 'because that is the length of the slot we have been given'. Trying to break out of this hole we dug for ourselves was exhausting and frustrating.
TV worked in defined time schedules so our work and the advertising that also existed between these gaps was defined. But no one can tell a great story in 30 seconds. That doesn't mean that some advertising hasn't tried, and there have been some astonishing adverts in the past 60 years, but often the ones you remember weren't 30 second spots - Guinness surfers, Dunlop Tyres, John Lewis Christmas. They all existed at longer lengths and were then cut down. Storytelling needs space in order to breath, not a ratatatat attack of images or words designed to batter consumers into buying a product. The advent of digital media has allowed us to break free of these time constraints and evolve a longer form storytelling model that often provides true engagement. Of course not all digital content is 1 minute long or longer, we also work with 6 second stories, 15 second instagram clips and 3 second bumpers, but we now can tell stories with breadth which was rarely possible before.
So back to the question of why start a content agency in a market so over-saturated people can barely breathe? JSR content has been formed because the photographers and illustrators we represent have been telling stories everyday since the agency was formed in 2006. Apparently every picture tells a story and we believe that our visual approach through photography and illustration gives us a unique heritage and experience to translate that passion and skill into moving image. Who knows, in a year's time we may all be doing something else, but for now, lets enjoy the ride.
Simon Amster, Creative Partner, JSR Content, www.jsrcontent.com