Q&A with Ivan Bouso, Executive Producer, National Geographic

January 19, 2017

Television Executive Producer with more than 20 years’ experience. Working for National Geographic for almost 15 years now, he enjoys producing international documentaries from innovative initial concept, through development to final production.

Passionate about storytelling and content creation, he has travelled more than 100 countries, looking for stories that engage global audiences. He has created branded content productions for several National Geographic’s projects developed in UK, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, South Africa, Mexico, Belarus, U.S.A., Turkey, Azerbaijan, Romania, Australia, Canada, Portugal or Spain, establishing high content, production, and creative standards.

Q: Why should agencies/advertisers enter the World Media Awards?
Ivan: Why should any production company submit a film to the Oscars? A mix of ego and wishes of acknowledgment, I guess. Many times, branded content projects fell off the radar and the World Media Awards are a great opportunity to make them relevant again and share the good work with new audiences.

Q: What will you be looking for from the entries?/What will make a winning entry?/What does great branded content look like?
Ivan: For me, branded content is content. Period. It moves you, it makes you laugh, it makes you cry… Basically, it entertains you. It is related to a brand, but it is content.As opposed to traditional ads, it is a content which the viewer/reader/consumer is willing to receive, being something that audiences want to watch.

Q: Why should advertisers use branded content – what is it best suited to achieve?
Ivan: Branded Content transforms traditional advertising into stories which essential structure is built by the brand’s values and become relevant to your audience.These are stories that move, entertain, inform and create awareness and are in tune with brand’s values and philosophy. As opposed to product placement, the product doesn’t “happen” to be into the story, if you remove the product/service/brand, the story would be inconsistent.
As Carl W. Buechner said, “They might forget what you said, but not how you made them feel”. If a brand develops stories that move, it will create an emotional bond which will engage with viewers more easily and will become part of their collective imagination and even part of themselves.

Q: What are the challenges and opportunities of integrating branded content across different platforms – from print to video, from mobile to TV?
Ivan: Being branded content, to integrate it across different platforms,it just needs to adapt itself into suitable formats to add value and become relevant into people’s lives. From a production perspective,it all starts with a compelling creative idea,then the story needs to be adapted to the different platforms and channels, and become transmedia storytelling but maintaining the same “spirit”. Let’s imagine that the idea is a diamond, every face would be on a different platform and all together would create the whole story.For me, what’s more important, is that these contents in different media, are connected (in an obvious but also subtle way) and they are well synchronized among them.

Also, a huge amount of research and Big Data analysis is needed to know which social video platform would work best for which type of branded content and story, making research on form and substance, crucial.
What are the biggest challenges in planning and implementing an international campaign across four or more international borders?

Challenge 1:To create an“universal” idea. Challenge 2:Find the best and mostsuitable Platform, Technology & Media. Challenge 3:Coordination with local markets. Challenge 4: Organization. Challenge 5:Knowing local legal restrictions. Challenge 6:Time (as always).

Q: How difficult is it to find a content marketing idea that can translate across borders?
Ivan: To create content able to travel has always proven to be difficult. In my experience, the more “classical”, the more chances a story has to be international. Also, as Leo Tolstoy said, “Describe your village, and you will be universal”, meaning that it needs to appeal to the most common feelings and cultural reference points for everyone to understand and connect.

Q: Summarise yourself in three words.
Ivan: Feo, fuerte y formal

Q: What made you want to pursue a career in media and marketing?
Ivan: The need for telling stories

Q: Name your favourite ever content-driven campaign.
Ivan: Popeye the Sailor Man