A 360-Degree Spin on Branded Entertainment
By Robert B. Yallen
Today, it is evident that there has been an extraordinary convergence of lifestyle, entertainment, marketing and celebrity pop culture. And while the explosion of these now cross-cutting media, entertainment and celebrity phenomena are giving consumers a vast canvas to play upon, this also affords marketers an opportunity capitalize on it.
At the Inter/Media Group of Companies® subsidiary Inter/Media Entertainment™, while we operate within the typical "branded-entertainment" sphere, we go beyond it by creating brands around celebrities and using "branded entertainment" as a core element of our marketing strategy.
Why Use a Celebrity? The advertising world has changed – where years ago only major brands could afford the use of a celebrity in their marketing efforts, now celebrities are willing to entertain other offers that appeal to their lifestyle choices, their values and their financial health. Especially with new media offering greater exposure—webisodes, mobile, etc.—they are willing to explore brand presentation that once was out of the question.
The right celebrity can make the advertising and marketing communications more interesting and believable. Further, a willing celebrity partner can expand the advertising dollars in powerfully enhancing ways.
How to Pick the Right Celebrity Partner Finding the right celebrity to represent your brand has some science and a lot of math to it. The first step we take is creating a Talent Brief that identifies the attributes a celebrity must possess in order to optimally represent the core values of the brand. Our goal is always to find the right fit with a celebrity in order for that person to be a powerful spokesperson for the brand--which will drive immediate sales and brand awareness.
Some of the key considerations include:
- How well the celebrity fits the target demographic and relates to that consumer
- The degree of credibility and believability that the celebrity holds for that demographic
- The celebrity's connection to the brand – a story that can be built upon
- And finally, one of the key attributes often neglected …can that celebrity sell? Just because he or she can act, does not necessarily translate into selling your offer.
The right celebrity for your brand must fit both the demographic and psychographic target. Choose a celebrity that your target market will believe and aspire to be like or become. He or she has to have a connection to the brand in some way—a shared value, product usage, a need your product fulfills in his or her life, a life experience that points out the importance of why he or she would endorse your product. There must be relevance.
But the right celebrity is also making an investment in your success. He or she is a partner in maximizing the relationship. That person must be just like any other key member of your executive team, continually looking for ways to help increase market-share and positively impact the bottom line.
One of my favorite stories about a commercial celebrity agreement was the deal we negotiated with George Kennedy. Per the contract, George was obligated to provide a certain amount of appearance days mostly for public relation purposes for our client. On one occasion, George was called by the producer of a national news magazine show wishing to interview him on something that had nothing at all to do with our client. George agreed to do the interview--as long as it was at his office within our client's headquarters. George went above and beyond – he was always thinking about the brand first – and was thus able to get our client additional exposure for something that had nothing at all to do with the product.
Not every celebrity becomes so immersed with the brand. However, the successful deals are those in which the celebrity spokesperson is a real brand believer and is always thinking of ways in which to gain exposure for the brand.
But be clear in your agreement on shared expectations; spell out the full range of activities that you want from your endorser--public relations, meet and greats (such as meeting with store buyers, key clients or vendors), speaking engagements and even motivational aspects, including rallying the company's staff members. We have found that when finding and negotiating celebrities for our Inter/Media Entertainment clients, that an upfront agreement on the level of commitment from the beginning ensures that everyone is on the same page.
Maximizing Your Celebrity in a Branded Entertainment Environment According to a Yankelovich study, the average U.S. resident is exposed to approximately 5,000 advertising messages a day. Every minute of the day brands try to capture attention and build market-share through television, radio, online, mobile, social, magazines, newspapers, billboards, store signage, posters, point-of-purchase displays and product packaging. Cutting-edge marketers are able to create uses beyond traditional paid adverting by creating branded entertainment deals.
The type of marketing architecture that we develop includes a branded entertainment component. There is nothing more persuasive than incorporating our celebrity spokespeople into entertainment portions of content – whether it is a television series, a movie, editorial content in magazines and newspapers and even events.
The purpose of a branded entertainment program is to give a brand the opportunity to communicate its image to its target audience in an innovative way, by creating positive connections between the brand and the program. At Inter/Media Entertainment we create partnerships between brands, producers and broadcasters. These campaigns can be highly successful because of the credibility consumers give to their favorite celebrities and the power of product placement.
One very effective approach we use, whenever possible, is to build a brand and brand extensions from the inception around the celebrity. This fully integrated and vested approach can really ignite sales, especially when the celebrity is part of the creative process.