Fashion Star, a heavily promoted primetime launch, pairs fashion designers with celebrity mentors in a competition to lure the attention—and the purchase orders—of department store buyers. Designs that make the cut are available immediately at one of the show’s three commercial partners—Macy’s, H&M, or Saks Fifth Avenue. With the clothes selling out before West Coast viewers even get a chance to check out the week’s collection, it appears the formula is working. And while this won’t satisfy those nostalgic for Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, it leaves no doubt that branded entertainment has entered a new realm.
Branded entertainment can be real driver of brand value, even sales.
Today’s consumer has 500+ TV channels (many now with a social layer), billions of YouTube videos, and a wide circle of Facebook profiles full of entertaining content to choose from; undivided attention is a thing of the past. Attention itself is changing, too. Passive viewers of entertainment have become active engagers, creators, and sharers of content. We are each our own producers and distributors.
This technological and behavioral jolt has equally affected the advertising and entertainment industries, and as a result, branded entertainment—on screens big and small, in conversations virtual and real, and in worlds electronic and physical—is enjoying an exceptional era. Broadcast shows like Fashion Star are selling out clothes on participating retailers websites; American Express’ Sync Show event with Jay-Z at SXSW led to $1.3 million in coupon redemptions and 25,000 new product sign-ups in just 9 days; Perrier’s digital "Le Club" reached 11.5 million engaged people with its message of ultimate refreshment; and, the over 600 hours of branded content produced annually in the Red Bull Media House library brings both marketing value and even new sources of revenue to the Red Bull brand.
Branded Entertainment is the next great frontier of brand storytelling; and, though there’s little doubt these days that branded entertainment has a role to play in the marketing mix, to shift budgets, a real understanding of this value must be achieved. It should come as no surprise then that the ANA reports the top two reasons why client-side marketers do not participate in branded entertainment programs is cost and lack of measurability. Client budgets are lean and dollars are deliberate. Brands cannot afford to make mistakes associated with uncalculated risk.
The onus is on the industry to provide brands a common language with which they can assess the use of branded entertainment in their marketing mix. Instead of looking at large and vague ROI numbers, programs need to clearly block and tackle brand ambitions and strategic marketing objectives.
When Hellmann’s wanted to increase sales growth in a stagnant market, they turned to branded entertainment and activated their content in-store—leading to a 4% growth in volume. When DuPont wanted to start the global debate on sustainability in a world of 7 billion people, they too turned to branded entertainment and now reach 450 million households with their inspiring documentaries. And when Europcar wanted to drive subscriptions to their short-term car rental service, Autoliberté, they maximized their small budget with a talk-worthy piece of entertainment that led to 83% more subscriptions.
These types of results are possible across all types of branded entertainment programs. It is why OgilvyEntertainment has invested in creating a measurement model—check out Ogilvy’s Branded Entertainment Assessment Model here.
Let’s build this database of success together and make branded entertainment a major component of the marketing mix. Accountability and measurement are required, but we’ve now got the language and tools to consistently prove it.
Doug Scott is President of OgilvyEntertainment.