How Great Big Story's Matthew Drake approaches branded content

Drake explained how he handles friction with clients when disagreements arise over the creation of branded content.

Matthew Drake and Vivian Schiller
Matthew Drake and Vivian Schiller

NEW YORK: Great Big Story’s director of programming and development Matthew Drake has no issue being frank with, or even declining to work with brands that approach him to create branded content.

At PRWeek and Campaign US’ Brand Film Festival New York on Thursday night, Weber Shandwick’s editor-in-chief Vivian Schiller asked Drake how he navigates friction between Great Big Story, a social video network and independent CNN subsidiary that launched in October 2015, and clients when creating branded content.

Drake explained that he and his team make sure to balance the needs of what the client is looking for with Great Big Story’s own values. Most importantly, he noted, it’s about having honest conversations from the get-go.

"We’ve all been in places where we’ve created things that we knew from launch were just not going to work; you knew the audience wasn’t going to love it," Drake said. "It is that element of creating something we are as excited as you are to create. Yes, we all have objectives and goals, but you want to create something someone wants to see and wants to love."

It’s not worth it for Great Big Story to chase "easy money," he added. Working on a piece of branded content that isn’t received well can do more harm than good in the long run.

The biggest mistake branded content creators can make is lacking the fortitude and bravery to just say, "No," explained Drake, adding it shouldn’t just be about ticking check marks off an RFP.

"There is nothing worse than time wasted," he said.

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