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What Makes Entertainment Marketing So Special?

Brands want to be where the people are, but the trouble is that people are disappearing. Wanting to get away from in-your-face advertising and commercial breaks, more people are ditching traditional cable and switching to paid, ad-free services like Netflix and Hulu. They’re using software to avoid pesky ads on YouTube and streamline their Facebook feeds.

Although viewing habits and consumers’ attitudes are changing, one thing remains the same: people love a good show. And for many brands, entertainment marketing is hotter than ever.

What Is It?

Entertainment marketing is a branch of marketing that uses facets of the entertainment world to promote or sell a brand or product. It works to build mutually beneficial relationships between pop culture and brands. A successful campaign gains exposure for both the brand and its entertainment vehicle, such as a celebrity, character, or movie.

You don’t have to look closely to see that entertainment marketing is everywhere. The most common types you probably recognize include product placement, celebrity endorsements, and event sponsorship.

Product Placement

Perhaps the most straightforward, product placement involves having a brand identifier, like a logo or specific product, appear in entertainment media. It can be as simple as putting a box of cereal on a table or having the police drive Audis.

In some cases, products become essential parts of the plot. This is known as brand integration. Characters name specific brands in conversation or need a certain product to advance the story. For instance, in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Elliott uses Reese's Pieces to lure E.T. out of hiding. As a result, sales of the candy shot up 65% immediately following the film’s premiere.

When done well, product placement works. Studies show that 50% of an audience will recall a product if it’s in the background of a scene. More than 70% will remember a product if it’s used by a character. That number jumps to 80% if the product relates directly to the plot.

Be warned though, horrible product placement has its consequences. People slammed Brad Pitt for his Pepsi debacle in World War Z. Others criticized Jurassic World for its arguably comical depiction of a commercialized theme park.

The movie industry has taken these criticisms in stride, however, and now hosts the Brandcameo Product Placement Awards, which celebrates obnoxious product placement in films. Currently, Transformers: Age of Extinction holds the record with 55 unique brands appearing in the movie.

Celebrity Endorsements

Despite the rise of social influencers, the relationships between traditional celebrities and marketers remain strong. Wanting to mimic their idols, people are likely to buy products promoted by celebrities they know and love. For some, just watching George Clooney talk about coffee for two minutes is enough for them to buy a $200 Nespresso machine.

A lot of brands collaborate directly with celebrities to create an exclusive line of products. Rihanna’s partnership with Puma ended up being a huge hit: her premiere Creeper shoes sold out just three hours after their release.

The trick is pairing the right celebrities with the right brand. Remember, stars are people, too. They want to support a brand that fits their image and aligns with their own values. Someone like Gwyneth Paltrow wouldn’t be caught dead promoting the Heart Attack Grill, after all.

Target demographics are also a huge factor, as certain stars attract particular types of people. It’s a good idea to thoroughly research your target audience to determine what celebrities resonate with them.

Event Sponsorship

Vans Warped Tour. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show. What do these events all have in common? Brand sponsorship, of course. From the live performances, social media buzz, and massive attendance, it’s no wonder companies want in on the action.

Since 2012, Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Parkway has transformed into the Budweiser Made in America Festival during Labor Day weekend. Created by Jay-Z and sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, the festival draws nearly 100,000 people to Philly each year. That’s 100,000 people listening to hit artists, celebrating musical diversity, and enjoying tasty Budweiser beer.

Company executive Paul Chibe rekindled Budweiser’s relationship with music, using the historic Budweiser Superfest series as inspiration. Sponsoring Made in America proved that Budweiser could give music fans an unforgettable experience and in return build an impressive amount of brand awareness.

Why It Works

People crave amusement. They want to marathon a new series, see the latest blockbuster, or go to the year’s biggest concert. Entertainment marketing targets consumers organically by seamlessly weaving into these experiences and strengthening emotional connections to things they enjoy.

Quite simply, entertainment marketing works so well because it entertains.

This post originally appeared on eZanga.


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