How to apply humour to your branded content

We are joined by actor and comedian Dan Ilic to talk about his upcoming projects and his experience working with publishers both home and aboard. We also discuss how brands are turning to humour to build and engage an audience through branded content. 

Dan’s resume includes Channel 10’s, The Ronnie John’s Half Hour, the ABC and the Al Jeezera Media Network. He is currently working on the ABC series, #Twitchhike which is airing through the ABC’s iVIew before moving into a role as an executive producer with the Fusion Network in Los Angeles. 

Download and listen to the full show and read below for a preview of Dan’s insights. 

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Rakhal Ebeli: I think that that’s a great way to look at things these days particularly with the diversification of content and the many channels within which we can reach audiences. There’s no point pigeon-holing yourself in as a comedian or a content creator or a journalist these days. It’s fantastic to have so many different strings to your bow.

Dan Ilic: Well, I’ve kind of found that everything that I’ve done lately seems to be kind of coming to ahead like it’s all the experiences that I’ve had over the last 10 years in this new world extremely valuable. All of a sudden I feel like my time might be coming as a content creator and a media strategist. It’s really kind of an exciting period for someone like me.

Rakhal: Yeah. It’s been a fascinating journey I guess from on the stage to then on the screen and now, as you say within content and we’re talking about content across so many channels. I know you were the head of satirical content for AJ+ which for our listeners is Al Jazeera’s online news and current affairs channel. What did you take out of that in terms of the content that audiences are consuming these days with Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and so on?

Dan: The biggest thing I took away from that was that for people my age like I’m … I don’t know how old you are, Rakhal, but I’m 34 and realistically I’m kind of a millennial because I don’t watch television and I haven’t watched television in such a long time. The medium of television itself, it becomes this strange antiquated based that still exists for old people. What I took away from AJ+ was just how powerful Facebook is as a channel for Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera created AJ+ with the intent to broadcast itself to millennials in a brand new way by making standalone content that can sit together, that’s shareable, that plays with identity politics, that gives people something they don’t know, that enriches their lives in some way. They make it shareable and fun and interesting not just for millennials but for anybody who uses Facebook. The strategy over the last couple of years seems to have worked. What I’ve enjoyed most about my time there was being able to run any idea I wanted to and running little experiments with content to see how to retell a story a couple of different ways to see which one will get traction.

They’re very open to that kind of experimentation. Just because you made a video about something on one particular subject doesn’t mean you can’t remake it again in a different way because those videos through the algorithm will eventually find different audiences. That’s really cool. That was one of the big takeaways I took from them and also just the power of embracing video in a digital setting with text driving it, with story driving it and knowing that you can, with something very simple, you can get great results.

Rakhal: Such an exciting time for both industries and when I say both industries I’m talking about I guess the comedy industry but also the content industry because I think we’re going through an incredible phase of exploration where brands that we’re once really conservative and now opening up their doors to customers through I guess being humanising the brand and having a sense of humor. At the same time, you know, you spoke about the antiquated platform of television for old people. Now, the content and the ways that we can reach people through Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever it might be, is so diverse. When you talk about how it’s all coming to ahead for you, I’m really keen to I guess understand is that on both of those I guess sides of the fence both the comedy and what you do in that hand goes hand-in-hand with the platforms that you can distribute.

Dan: Yeah. Well, I’m about to move to Los Angeles to work for Fusion Networks in America as an executive producer of satire for them. There I’m going to be building products not just for their Facebook video channels but also scalable projects to run on television in America as well. It’s one of those things where if you’ve got a great idea and you’re in a new breed of media company, you should be able to find the right channel to suit that idea. What’s been really exciting here at the ABC, for instance, is the amount of digital exploration that’s going on. I just thought particularly with the stuff I’ve been doing with “Twitchhike,” it’s been cool to be able to do something so cheap and so free willing for the ABC just to kind of experiment with the idea I’ve been kicking around for ages but also looking at other comedy iView opportunities that have been coming out. There’s been a lot of piloting going on through just the digital platforms here at the ABC and also take a lot at Sammy J. If you haven’t seen any of Sammy J’s election content, I recommend jumping on iView and checking it out. It is hysterical.

What was mentioned: 

Singin’ in the Rain – Make ‘Em Laugh

“In that clip, they have pretty much every kind of joke. There are visual jokes. They have the rule of three jokes. They have slapstick. They have word jokes. They have puns. Everything in that old 1950s, old 1940s movie has every style of joke.” – Dan Ilic. 

5 Key takeaways: 

1. When it comes to content creation, make it memorable, make it shareable. 

2. Have a flat out structure to get your social media ideation plan executed as fast as possible.

3. When you’re the creative and you’re connected straight to the client, that’s the best relationship you can have. 

4. Tell your story without boring your audience. 

5. Surprise your audience. Deliver the unexpected. 

Connect with Dan on social media: 

Twitter: @danilic

Instagram: danilic