Monday, June 29, 2009

A blanket ban on brand entertainment

For decades, brands have appeared in, funded, produced, marketed and sponsored entertainment. Proctor & Gamble set up their own production company to create radio serials back in the 30s. Soap operas had an obvious beginning. Recently in a meeting with Reg Grundy, our most famous television pioneer explained how brand funding gave him a start in television. Graham Kennedy's paid for 'in program advertisements' where he pilloried products for minutes on end were legendary.

No one called this brand entertainment.

In recent years, we've witnessed a product placement juggernaut and a move towards more sophisticated attempts to weave brands into storytelling. Taking their cue from the sports sponsorship model, brands have also become smarter about leveraging the value of their involvement with entertainment.

Everyone (including me) has called this brand entertainment, or something similar.

But it seems to me, this is where the whole damn trouble began - the emergence of this now ubiquitous phrase, and the invention of this 'new discipline' has a lot to answer for.

Frankly the language seems outdated, and it's holding us back.

Because as more than one observer has noted, the term 'brand entertainment' still has a bit of a stink about it.

Not in the minds of audience or marketers necessarily. But certainly in the worlds of media owners, TV networks, major production companies etc, there is still an unwarranted stigma attached to the notion of brand entertainment.

There is absolutely no guarantee that because a production company, online platform or network develops a show, finds the brands and then dictates their involvement that a) the brand integration will be any more sophisticated or better executed than if a brand were to do it all themselves (with the right partners and expertise) and b) the entertainment values will be superior.

Look at Network Nine's homemade, I'd suggest it's fairly heavyhanded on the brand integration front. Only it's not badged as brand entertainment, as it's a network commissioned show. And given it's ratings performance, it's hard to say that it's delivering for audiences.

Brands invested 50 million pounds in Quantum of Solace but no one says 'oh yeah, Quantum of Solace is a brand funded movie'.

As I've written about previously, brand funded entertainment is not entirely blameless for the position it finds itself in. However, given it's burdened by a legacy of language, I've got a simple solution.

I vote we kill off these phrases - brand funded TV, branded content, advertiser funded programming, brand entertainment, branded entertainment.

What entertainment is not brand funded one way or another?

Let's return to one simple word.


Which is after all what we're all working hard to create.

I reckon that solves everything.


Tim Burrowes - Mumbrella said...

Interesting you should say that.

In the US, AdAge is abandoning its Madision & Vine newsletter which focused on branded entertainment, because it says it has gone so mainstream it's a key element of integrated marketing.

It only took 50 years...


Tim - Mumbrella

Anonymous said...

Excellent point Kate. We're addicted to terminology and buzzwords (branding exercises themselves), to the point where the nuances of our projects are lost to blanket terms.

You're absolutely right that all entertainment is branded anyway. Even little independent Aussie films are branded by the funding body that funded it.

BTW - I love that Graham Kennedy video. Hilarious that they rag on the products they're supposed to prop. Is anyone doing this today?

Doug Garske said...

we, who live in the world of getting brands to pay for inclusion in entertainment (to put it another way) understand what you are saying. But when Agencies are still trying to get their head around giving clients new ideas (and say to me "I dont get Twitter") have to be edumacated in the what it means to include a brand in entertainment - we have to revert to the the simple terms. We have to keep those terms so we can help ourselves sell the concept.

Kate Richardson said...

Thanks for comments all.

Doug, I agree and calling it 'entertainment' couldn't be simpler.

WOW Gold said...
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