Branding is a concept that any marketer or advertisement professional has based a career upon. A brand is an identity through which any product, concept or person must establish a distinctive, and appealing, sense of self to sell to the public. Traditional methods of advertising have shaped the world across media formats. Be it a 30 second commercial spot or a print ad in a national publication, conventional advertising has served its purpose well and become the “face” of many companies and campaigns whose crafted brands and messages have outlived time periods and, often, consumers themselves. However, the world is changing. Digital Video recording devices, e.g.: TiVo and DVR, have changed the face of in-home entertainment and rarely does one absorb or appreciate a well-placed billboard as fully as times gone by. To the modern American seconds are precious and time is a luxury worth more than the top-shelf products he or she is being sold. Advertising professionals are faced with a new frontier of reaching consumers in a meaningful and time-effective way.
One such method is branding embedded within the entertainment consumers are readily, in the most efficient manner, welcoming. While the concept of product placement is not a new one, advertisers are being called to approach the craft with new levels of ingenuity and psychological proclivity to best reach the intended audience without making an overt sale . The simple placement of a product in the hand of any lead actress, for example, is no longer acceptable. The placement must resonate with the viewer in an evocative and personal manner without being blatant or expected.
Branded entertainment extends beyond highly rated television shows and blockbusters to the gaming world. Electronic Arts (EA Games) recognizes a community of 290 million “gamers” each making up a large share of targeted demographics for top advertising ventures. Combined with new platforms for community interaction and interface via Facebook and other social media and interactive channels, gaming entertainment featuring well-placed and appropriately integrated products is a trend that is bursting through traditional confines of audience influence.
An integrated and creative approach is the new reality for effective advertisement via branded entertainment. Consumers are increasingly savvy and alert to the propensity of “being sold to”. While entertainment branding provides an avenue, advertisers beware: audiences are smart and “onto the sale”. The standard for provocative placement is as tricky and creative-required as the entertainment material in which we are trying to blend. A labeled pizza box is no longer enough to cut it as influential marketing. We are called to be greater. As an industry I think we’re up to the challenge.