Do Brands Need to Lose Control to Win?


We spend a lot of our working lives trying to be in control of our brand, our budget, and our social profile. We work with brand controllers, channel controllers and a few control freaks.

But at BVE yesterday, in a presentation from Matt Jagger of Upfront, we heard about the riches in store for those of us who are willing to lose control.

Matt was talking at the ‘Are Brands the New Broadcasters?’ seminar, hosted by Red Bee Media, about his work on Fosters Funny.

To paraphrase the planning: Carling were all over football and comedy felt a good territory for Fosters as Australians are quite funny.

By way of a C4 comedy sponsorship and the Edinburgh comedy awards, Fosters quickly found itself at the door of Steve Coogan and Alan Partridge. Partridge is pretty certifiably funny; so, so far so controlled.

However, Fosters were about to commission Patridge to be funny for their brand, not just for his show. And they were going to broadcast the results on their very own 'Fosters Funny' comedy website.

What happened next took real self control, as Fosters handed the writing and creation of their comedy content wholeheartedly to Steve Coogan.

There were not to be tissue sessions, Fosters were not to comment on the intended direction and they most certainly were not to have an opinion on whether a joke was funny. In fact they were not have any input into their brand's content at all. They lost control.

It might have been an uncomfortable ride at times, feeling they'd lost control of the Partridge comedy roller coaster. There must have been temptations to sneak in a drinking moment here, a glimpse of the can there, perhaps some beer-based ribaldry...but Fosters kept the faith and reaped the rewards.

Alan Partridge on Fosters Funny became a top ten trending topic on Twitter, and the Fosters YouTube account has received over 8.5 million views so far. The brand association with comedy was strengthened and people were proud to be seen drinking Fosters again.

It was also announced yesterday that Partridge has been commissioned for a second series of Mid Morning Matters for Fosters.

So comedy is good. Partridge is good. But it was having the confidence to abdicate total control to their talent that made this content a real winner for Fosters.

Are you ready to lose control? Not just a bit. Totally lose it? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Kath Hipwell, Planning Director