Brands Going Hollywood

Discussion
Nov 10, 2006

By George Anderson


Brand marketers want your attention and a small but growing number are looking to do that by producing television shows, movies and online content that both entertain and influence
purchasing behavior.


“It’s the exploration of sort of a new world,” Doug Powell, chief integrator of Maiden Lane, an advertising agency, told The New York Times. “Clients would love to have
a way for customers to be able to participate with their brands more often and not have to rely on the traditional media world.”


Brand manufacturers aren’t ready to bail on traditional advertising, but many are concerned that consumers are able to avoid their messages through the use of digital video recorders
and itchy trigger fingers poised to remotely switch television channels at the first sign of a commercial.


“What we’re trying to do is find new ways to continue to be relevant to teens and to young adults,” said Vic Walia, the senior brand manager for Snickers at Mars, whose company
created a web site called “Instant Def” featuring the Black Eyed Peas.


The Peas, will.i.am, Fergie, Taboo and apl.de.ap, play aspiring rappers who work in a Snickers factory and drive around in a Snickers truck. In the first episode, an explosion
in the factory gives them superhero powers.


According to Mars, one million (plus one) have logged on to the site to see the five episodes on the site. To see for yourself, go to www.instantdef.com.


Television networks have been reluctant to make their airwaves available to marketer created content, but that has changed somewhat with the development of cable television.
Procter & Gamble, for example, has produced a show called “Home Made Simple” that airs on TLC.


Jon Kamen, chief executive at @radical.media, which produces TV shows and movies for advertisers, said, “It’s critically important that the broadcast networks and cable embrace
this shift now rather than resist it,” because advertisers have “elsewhere to go” if they do not.


Anheuser-Busch has taken the idea about marketer created entertainment a big step further with its plans to put a seven-channel video network online known as BudTV. The network,
featuring reality shows, comedy and sports, will debut in February.


“If we do it right, then we’re going to have a pretty attractive demographic group,” said Anthony Ponturo, vice president for global media and sports marketing for Anheuser-Busch.


BudTV might even generate revenues from other brands looking to advertise on it.


“If BudTV can garner the right audience relative to that male 24 to 32 middle-income demographic in flyover states, there will be other advertisers that are going to want to
reach that audience,” said Doug Scott, executive director for branded content and entertainment at Ogilvy North America.


Discussion Questions: What do you see as the opportunities and potential pitfalls for marketers producing their own entertainment content? Is there any
current content that you can comment on?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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13 Comments on "Brands Going Hollywood"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

They might not be any better at it than the people who currently produce content. Still, the sky could be the limit. Imagine “Miami Ink” sponsored by Sharpie. Or, what about a “Dog the Bounty Hunter” series in which Dog only uses Tabasco pepper spray (also available in Jalapeno flavor)?

Dick Seesel
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

Not a new trend…after all, the phrase “soap opera” originated because of sponsors such as Procter & Gamble moving in early radio and TV to control the programming content of their advertising vehicles. And Disney has refined the art of cross-marketing its content on its own media properties.

Perhaps the difference today is the rapid evolution of “new media” triggered by digital forms like the iPod and the cell phone. It pays for consumer marketers and retailers to figure this out and to anticipate the “next wave” of media communication that might still be five years on the horizon. Remember, radio was a “new medium” at one time, too.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

Bad show = lower brand sales?

John Lansdale
Guest
John Lansdale
15 years 6 months ago

My answer was missing. It would have been:

“Very willing if the brand messages are honestly revealed and the whole experience is worthwhile or fun.”

Some people don’t seem to get it. They say “credibility” is key to web communications but recommend “downplaying” – not exactly an oxymoron, but close.

People don’t mind being sold something if they’re told what it is. Tell them your giving them some fun (or facts) so you’ll consider looking at the product. But if you try to sneak (“downplay”) something in, you’re doomed, not only this time, but in the future.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

For many brands, it’s less risky to rent time and space on someone else’s creation. That way, the demographics and audience size are already known or guaranteed in advance. Creating your own show means you’re willing to pay for the audience you reach, even though that may be hard to predict. The advantage might be a lower cost, but certainly that result isn’t guaranteed. Every ad agency already knows the audience size and demographics for Yankee baseball or 60 Minutes or The Today Show. What ad agency is willing to guarantee the audience size and demographic for The Self-Produced Brand Show? Whether it’s on TV or on-line, it’s a greater risk.

MARK DECKARD
Guest
MARK DECKARD
15 years 6 months ago

Bass Pro Shops has been producing Bass Pro Outdoor World television shows for quite a number of years, now airing on the Outdoor Channel. They were the ultimate reality shows before reality TV was a media term. The shows were and still are extremely effective; providing how-to education about products and their use, brand and product awareness, brand credibility and a reach for the Bass Pro brand and the brands and products of its vendors that was beyond the catalog list and reach of its growing store base.

Similarly, the entry into the NASCAR circuit sponsoring Dale Earnhardt in the mid-90s lent another spike of brand awareness and credibility that brought a whole new element of loyalty, emotion and consumer identity into play.

This method of promotion can be extended and exploited by other brands & retailers effectively without becoming a tacky giant infomercial, but as the tend continues to develop, we’ll undoubtedly see some real successes and conversely, some real screw-ups in the mix.

Dustin Stinett
Guest
Dustin Stinett
15 years 6 months ago

While I believe we’ll see more of this type of programming, I also believe we will start seeing much more product placement in television shows as a way to get around digital recording. It’s seen on some “reality” shows already, but I suspect that sooner than later we will see television characters drinking Pepsi and eating their delivered Pizza Hut pizza during scenes. Scenes that people will not be able to zip through via TiVo.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

Sponsoring entertainment is not a new idea; sponsoring programs is not a new idea; creating the programs or series is not a new idea. What is new is that the shows do not have to be aired on the traditional networks or even on cable. With ever more fragmenting markets and ever more vehicles for getting the shows to the consumers, it is possible that mainstream consumers may never even see the new programs. The challenge for brand managers is that is the brand crosses different consumer groups is creating one or more messages that are distinctive and effective for a particular consumer that another consumer group (using their brand) finds offensive, distasteful, or unappealing. Creating meaningful ads for specific consumer groups that are not offensive or unappealing to other targeted consumer groups will be the new challenge for brand managers.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 6 months ago

Everyone else ha already covered all the pertinent points…all except how do we profit from this? It would seem to me that the explosion of content is going to drive the cost of talent through the roof. We might take advantage by investing in talent agencies and production companies. Also, it would seem that while bandwidth might not be strained, there certainly will be an increase in use–who profits there? Hey, I’m getting old and have to think about the investment potential of everything! But thanks to Wal-Mart, I can now have my medicine and my meals. At $4 a prescription I am moving up from Happy Meals to Big Macs!

Eliott Olson
Guest
Eliott Olson
15 years 6 months ago

Is it more effective to own the media or rent it? As we have seen, major CPMs have decided to own at least part of it for a long time. The internet is now bringing ownership possibilities into the range of retailers. Content is the big issue but companies like Ukrop’s seem to be on the right track.

Robert Leppan
Guest
Robert Leppan
15 years 6 months ago

As other panelists have pointed out, advertisers getting involved in content is not new. What is new is the tremendous variety of communication channels that are now available to reach consumers. If advertisers can marry entertainment with brand messaging to reach and connect with their target audience in an every more fragmented advertising space, then this is something to seriously consider. There have already been lots of marketers trying to tap into entertainment and pop culture. A few years ago, BMW created an exciting series of mini-videos produced by a British director around a new model launch which was available online. Whether this effort produced the desired results in terms of “buzz” and awareness is a question, but it exhibited a “cool factor” and garnered lot of PR. There is a fine line between “leading edge” and “bleeding edge” but I applaud marketers for trying something new. Certainly the days of a TV buy being the mainstay media support has gone the way of the VCR and the 8 track cassette.

George Andrews
Guest
George Andrews
15 years 6 months ago

Stephen said it best and said it short and sweet. I have heard, “we have 300 channels and nothing to watch” for years. Align the brand and marketing with good content; we really don’t care where it comes from. The launching of a successful Bud network will generate so many potential jokes about the fall of civilization as we know it, that they probably won’t even need to promote the network themselves, late night TV will do it for them. I am also a huge fan of the potential of podcasts as an educational and marketing vehicle.

So a clearly focused and consistent merchandise assortment, displayed well, with good customer service = comp store increases. Good content=good brand sales. Great marketing won’t overcome poor product or poor experience. I’ve been making analysis too hard; I’m done for the month.

Herb Sorensen, Ph.D.
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

Hallmark has been big in media for a very long time, and there are other major brands, like GE, that have been associated with long running media. So why not?

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