BuzzFeed focuses on branded content with massive expansion at its UK HQ

At its Digital Upfronts event, BuzzFeed announced that it is doubling the size of its UK headquarters as well as launching two international branded studio hubs.

Senior executives at its IAB UK Digital Upfronts event this afternoon put the media giant’s success down to knowing how to speak to its audience, as well as an attitude of ongoing learning.

“We learn 600 times a day, globally, with each piece of content,” said Brant McLean, SVP, Brand Strategy, Europe. “We take what we know to be relatable content and that becomes your brand’s head start – and it works.”  

He gave the example of a Baileys campaign run on BuzzFeed’s food network, Proper Tasty. Via a recipe for French Toast, which incorporated Baileys, the video got 14m plus views and 275k shares, he said.  

Frank Cooper, BuzzFeed’s Chief Marketing and Creative Officer pointed out that the key to partnering with BuzzFeed to build brand value on social is to show that your brand listens to its customers and is empathetic rather than “simply iconic”. 

“Social’s core energy is empathy – helping people connect to others and feel less alone in this crazy world,” he explained. “ I believe that’s the superpower of building brands today … It will separate those who excel from those who struggle.”

Janine Gibson, BuzzFeed UK’s Editor-in-Chief, also took to the stage, describing the company as a news organisation built for millennials. 

“You have to listen and tell stories in the way they care about … Traditional news misses the mark on tone, distribution, voice, topics and formats,” she warned. 

She also claimed that BuzzFeed covers news that other publishers “wouldn’t go near” – giving by way of example the allegations of sex abuse, violence, and drug selling at charity Kids Company – news which she said was broken by BuzzFeed, and which led to the police investigations.

BuzzFeed got to 7bn plus monthly views today, added Cooper, by putting empathy at the heart of its business. Its approach is to tell stories “not solely to impress, but for people to use for their own benefit.”

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