Louis Eksteen and Kim Browne launch Twisted Toast Digital 

First for South Africa with launch of dedicated brand content agency for digital media

The publishing team behind the success of South Africa’s leading magazines FHM and heat, Kim Browne and Louis Eksteen, have launched Twisted Toast Digital –– a first for South Africa as a dedicated brand content agency for digital media. Browne and Eksteen not only launched FHM and heat in South Africa, but were also the force behind growing the popular brands up to March this year.

Browne (Chief Executive Officer) and Eksteen (Managing Director), the senior partners of the agency, are joined by Erik Verster (Creative Director) as co-founder of Twisted Toast Digital, Hybrid Media Agency.

Browne explains her and Eksteen’s departure as COO and CEO from UCM (UpperCase Media), publishers of the successful FHM and heat brands: “Media24 Magazines restructured its business to consolidate all 100% owned, but previously separately managed subsidiary businesses, into a new five-division structure. For us this meant UCM’s brands were to be managed by Media24 Magazines directly. heat was moved into the same operating stable as Huisgenoot and YOU at Media24 Weeklies, while FHM was placed with Kick-Off and others in Media24 Developing Markets. We saw this restructuring as an opportunity to start a new business in the digital media world via the creation of a unique new brand content agency. Twisted Toast Digital is the result.”

Commenting on the services of Twisted Toast, Browne states: “Twisted Toast assists brands to create own brand content. This content in turn provides the oil (stories) that turns the social media wheel. We use a variety of social media, applications, traditional media such as video production and, when required, print media to collectively tell a brand’s story in a professional manner. It’s our field of expertise to assist brands to create content strategies and then, most importantly, to execute these strategies effectively so that deeper brand fan engagement is the result.”

Similar to how brands use external advertising agencies to assist them with the creation of commercials, brands can rely on Twisted Toast to support them with brand content creation and execution. Twisted Toast can help brands recognise content creation opportunities, create the actual content in a brand context and then execute and deliver the created content across the brand’s own content platforms, including social media.

Although Twisted Toast is the first full service brand content agency in South Africa, Browne says this trend is now a fully fledged part of brand content marketing communication in the United States, where similar agencies already exist. “In fact, traditional publishers in the USA, such as Hearst and Meredith, have been buying brand content agency hot shops in order to enhance what they as traditional media owners can offer brand marketers,” she continues.

With media consumption and brand communication changing drastically during the last decade, Eksteen believes Twisted Toast will now finally be able to offer brands a content solution to effectively communicate with desired target markets. “The internet is increasingly being used to access dedicated, specifically functional programmes commonly known as apps, especially via mobile connected devices. Coupled with this trend is the dramatic increase in importance of the social web. Facebook and Twitter have become so crucial that many internet users (mostly via mobile devices) are experiencing their own customised access to the social web as their entry point to the internet itself. As a direct result of a combination of these two important trends, a significant new marketing communication trend has developed.

“This overarching trend is the increasing realisation by brand owners that, in a digitally connected mobile media world, all brands are content brands. This means brand fans expect immediate and relevant communication and content created between themselves and brands, in real time, typically via media content accessible through connected mobile devices. This involves the professional use of the app internet and social web by brand communicators,” he explains.

Browne adds that traditional media will still play a purposeful role in the future. “Twisted Toast brand content marketing services complement traditional marketing communication activities such as advertising, publicity, activation and sponsorship. Brand content marketing via digitally accessible platforms is a new category of marketing communication that enhances brand engagement via own brand media. Effectively executed brand content marketing strategies can enhance real time marketing through direct engagement of brand fans.”

Eksteen accentuates that Twisted Toast will target brand communication decision makers. “We’ve developed a tool called the Twisted Toast Brand Content Continuum (TM) that assists us with determining which services that we offer are best suited to which client. We use this tool to match client needs with Twisted Toast services,” he says.

He adds that Twisted Toast will be able to service clients across the country as “all our tools are cloud based, which means it runs off the internet, so we can work from anywhere where access to the internet is available”.

Browne says the feedback they have received from the marketing industry has been positive so far. “Everyone we’ve told is excited and recognises this is where brand communication is going, fast. But as it’s an entirely new field that we’re assisting with creating, the most frequent question is ‘but what is it exactly that you do?’ Saying we help brands with social media activation is the easiest way to explain what we do at the moment. Then, as the marketing community at large becomes more exposed to brand content creation over time, it will become easier for the industry to understand what we’re all about. As media creation experts, as well as marketing professionals, we’re combining marketing and media content to enhance brand engagement, through brand content marketing in real time. We help brands tell their own stories, on their own platforms, in an engaging way.”

Eksteen further explains by stating that all brands have stories to tell and thus all brands are content brands. “If these stories are told in an interesting way, without hard sell, and are easily accessible via digitally connected media devices such as smart phones and tablets, fans of the brand are entertained and informed within a brand context. Imagine that a brand brings a big-name celebrity to South Africa to assist them with a new product launch. Without its own brand content strategy and execution methodology, this local brand will probably be pitching interviews and events with the celebrity to external media to generate publicity. These external media will likely not care too much about the brand as they are far more interested in the celebrity. If the local brand executed its own brand content strategy alongside that of the external mainstream media, they would have been able to control first and exclusive access to the celebrity themselves, across their own platforms, and then they could have involved external media in a planned manner.

“So practically, this means that for example when the celebrity arrives at OR Tambo, instead of all the external media getting first exclusive access, the brand could conduct its own professional first interview and seed it across its pre-organised own media – including social media platforms and others. All of this will then take place within the brand’s own context and brand fans will know that, to find out the first and best information about the celebrity’s visit, they should utilise the brand’s own content platforms. Coupled with traditional marketing efforts such as competitions, point of sale, advertising and event activations, brand content thus enhances the experience for fans and leads to closer engagement,” he says.

In conclusion, Browne explains where the name Twisted Toast originated from: “Back in 2005 we held a conference at a country house in the Drakensberg. During breakfast one morning we were presented with an unusual treat: twisted toast and poached eggs. We loved the uniqueness of this special delight and decided that if ever we were to establish our own company, we’ve got the name.

“Bread is staple, cake a luxury. Toast is both. Simple, comforting and satisfying. It can be served with anything; dressed up or down. Toast is simply wonderful. Everyone loves toast, but this universality does not detract from its uniqueness. Toast is a must have. That’s what we’re aiming for with Twisted Toast: Digital Media Architects to become –– a must have brand content agency. So while we offer our clients brand content services that over-deliver on expected outcomes, we endeavour to do so uniquely, or with a twist.”

For more information visit twistedtoast.com, like TwistedToast on Facebook, follow @TwistToast on Twitter and email [email protected]