Is Branded Entertainment the Future?

No story lives unless someone wants to listen. The stories we love best do live in us forever. So whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.
— J.K. Rowling

Brands are realizing that they must connect with their audience in a deeper way through the power of storytelling. These stories are not about the brand, but about people, conflict and drama — all the elements the audience is looking for in entertainment.

Branded Entertainment is about telling these stories through the prism of the brand’s DNA. Not only has it has become an essential piece of a modern brand’s ever more complex marketing puzzle, but it has become a core competency that brands must embrace. Here are four reasons why we think Branded Entertainment is the future.

 
Breaking Bad raised the storytelling bar by setting aside patronising platitudes in favor of paying deep respect to their audiences’ taste for exceptional visual storytelling and genuine emotional connections to characters.

Breaking Bad raised the storytelling bar by setting aside patronising platitudes in favor of paying deep respect to their audiences’ taste for exceptional visual storytelling and genuine emotional connections to characters.

 

1. Streaming has raised the bar

Led by titans Netflix and Hulu, in 2018 streaming video subscriptions eclipsed traditional pay TV. Alongside a lower barrier to entry for Hollywood caliber production, the ascendance of episodic binge watching has unleashed a tsunami of creativity. Never before has so much content of such high quality been available so ubiquitously. Competition for the viewer’s attention has never been more intense.

As a result, the bar for sophisticated storytelling and cinematic production is rising at a meteoric pace, led by such iconic juggernauts as Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. The average consumer’s expectations for quality entertainment has risen too, and brands are realizing that they need to tell their story with the same gusto and dedication to quality.

 

This explicit remake of scenes from cult classic “American Psycho”, created and directed by Hugo Keijzer, for Denham Jeans has been an online hit, in the first few days scoring more than a million views.

 

2. Nobody likes being interrupted

You’d be hard pressed to find a single soul who has welcomed a preroll ad with anything but annoyance. The interruptive model for advertising is not working. We’ve all become experts at using available technologies for skipping commercials, and blocking ads. Indeed 90% of people click on the ‘skip ad’ option when it is offered. It might not be stretch to purport that consumers see brands that continue to push these kinds of ads as lazy, while smart brands are embracing Branded Entertainment to create a genuine connection.

 

The follow-up to “Denham Psycho” takes the obsession for jeans to the next level in another explicit remake. This time scenes from Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator” were tailored to fit the story of a jean maker haunted with the obsessive need for perfection. And just like the previous film it doesn’t end all too well.

 

3. The rise of short form

With the mobile service providers offering all-day free streaming of data, consumers are binging on more content in shorter bursts. On the way to work, at lunch time, while cooking. Amazon Prime & Netflix are creating more and more short form series to catch these consumers. Katzenberg (ex-Disney and Dreamworks) and Meg Witmen (ex. Ebay and HP) are launching a new platform with 1 billion in investment money to focus only on short form content on their platform called Quibi. (Quick Bites) launching in April 2020.

 
Perhaps the best examples of fully-realized Branded Entertainment are the Lego Movies. MikeTeeVee was thrilled to work with Lego on the campaign for Lego Movie 2, and the insanely catchy “Everything is Awesome” music video clip.

Perhaps the best examples of fully-realized Branded Entertainment are the Lego Movies. MikeTeeVee was thrilled to work with Lego on the campaign for Lego Movie 2, and the insanely catchy “Everything is Awesome” music video clip.

 

4. New revenue streams

Branded Entertainment can be a significant revenue stream for brands willing to invest the resources necessary to make the content truly great.

Take the example of Uncle Drew, a full length feature film that emerged from Kyrie Irving’s character in his Pepsi Max advertisements that began airing in 2012, along with former NBA players Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, and Nate Robinson, as well as former WNBA player Lisa Leslie.

The comedy received positive reviews from critics and grossed $46.5 million worldwide. With a budget of $9 million, this film shines a light on the outright profitability of a well-told story.

 

Nike & Pepsi’s Uncle Drew came to theaters on June 29, 2018, starring Kyrie Irving, Lil Rel Howery, Shaquille O'Neal, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, Chris Webber, Erica Ash, Lisa Leslie, with Tiffany Haddish and Nick Kroll, Uncle Drew

 

There may be a more important reason…

A brand should know how to tell its story, and tell it well. But essentially, this must come from a place of genuinely wanting to connect with their audience. If a brand can find its voice as a storyteller, its reason for being and therefore the relevance of its products in its audiences’ lives will organically become evident.