Key to Hearts of Millions of Customers: Entertainment Marketing as Brand Promotion Tool

Pauline Volovik
7 min readOct 20, 2023

Imagine your products or services becoming well-known with tens, thousands, and even hundreds of users in a few seconds. It is just your brand name happens to “accidentally” on screens, making its way through competitors and information noise. It is the power of entertainment marketing, a practical and effective tool to increase brand recognition easily, naturally, and creatively.

The Deloitte research shows interesting results. 54% of streaming service and social media users state that product placement [one of the types of entertainment marketing] has an average or strong influence on their decision-making process. In 2019, in the USA alone, companies’ income from product placement was $11.63 billion!

In this article, I will tell you about entertainment marketing and how it can help your business conquer new audiences.

What entertainment marketing is

Entertainment marketing is about promoting a product or brand in films, series, videos, TV programs, video games, and social network publications by popular creators, musicians, actors, and influencers, as well as various events. In fact, it is both a partnership and advertising content created not only for promotional purposes. Such content captures peoples’ attention and encourages them to interact with the brand. Hence, the main goal of entertainment marketing is to establish emotional connections with your audience, increase brand, product, or service awareness, foster loyalty, and promote the company through word of mouth. But to do it all in a light-hearted way that is engaging, enjoyable, and memorable.

Entertainment marketing combines the entertaining part with product advertising. It is a true art to make an unobtrusive offer of your product. Do not sell it under any circumstances! Simply encourage people to buy what they want instead of what they need.

With entertainment marketing’s goal of increasing recognition and, in the long run, boosting income, how does it differ from classical advertising? The best advertisement is the one that does not look like an advertisement. Organic content and primarily entertaining platforms [or film and series platforms] allow engaging more audiences through entertainment. Moreover, people themselves are willingly using social media, trying to avoid aggressive advertising that seems to lurk everywhere. It’s just that now it’s disguised and takes the form of entertainment.

If previously brands used the film industry for their promotion, today they are confidently conquering the niche of social media. According to Business of Apps statistics, as of early October 2023, TikTok alone has 1.7 billion active users each month. This platform has become an extraordinary catalyst for the development of entertainment marketing, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic began. People spent hours daily searching for video entertainment.

The popularity of short, fun, and engaging videos on TikTok inspired Instagram and Facebook to create IGTV and Facebook Watch. There’s a simple explanation for all of this: the modern audience wants to be entertained. Creators and brands are taking advantage of this by creating not boring advertisements that hit you directly, but rather interesting and captivating videos that quickly go viral and become extremely popular in a short amount of time.

Era of entertainment marketing — why should businesses be creative?

Everyone benefits from collaboration. Entertainment marketing allows businesses to promote their products, expanding their brand reach beyond their target audience to new markets while also achieving a high return on investment. Creators, film producers, and television shows, on the other hand, receive funding for their projects.

Benefits of entertainment marketing for businesses

This marketing tool offers important advantages for brands:

  • Natural and genuine appearance compared to traditional commercial advertising. Let’s be honest, the latter can often be annoying. Forcing products or services upon viewers, as seen in TV or YouTube ads that can’t be skipped or fast-forwarded, can make people want to tune out. In contrast, humorous videos or subtly displayed products have a more natural look. They may even boost sales without making overt buy calls. For instance, the classic Ray-Ban Aviator Classic sunglasses are associated with Tom Cruise and his role in Top Gun.

After 7 months following the movie’s premiere, Ray-Ban sunglasses sales increased by 40%.

By the way, research results confirm the effectiveness of entertainment marketing and product placement. The authors of the article “Product Placement Effects on Store Sales: Evidence from Consumer Packaged Goods” assert that product placement is an alternative and effective way for brands to reach consumers. It’s becoming increasingly popular.

  • High return on investment. Advertising budgets may not yield immediate results. Entertainment marketing is indeed an effective tool, but initially, you’re engaging with the audience, fostering clear connections between your products and pleasant emotions, and building trust in your brand. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 70% of teenagers trust social media influencers more than famous celebrities. Millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than traditional marketing and brand-created content [Market Splash data]. Trust is a powerful tool for businesses overall. According to Nielsen’s research, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and colleagues, and 70% trust reviews and recommendations from strangers.

Regarding invested capital. In “The State of Influencer Marketing 2020” report by InfluencerMarketingHub, data shows that marketing campaigns involving influencers generate $5.78–$18 for every dollar spent.

Most wide-spread entertainment marketing types proved to be efficient

Let’s analyze entertainment marketing strategies and examples of each.

Product placement in films and series

I’ve already provided an example of product placement earlier. It’s the use of a company’s logos or products [easily recognizable] in movies and other media to create brand recognition. Everything, from clothing and accessories to items that briefly appear on the screen, is carefully selected. Product placement works because viewers’ attention is focused on the frame and the storyline.

According to Ryan Reynolds, Ikea ended up in scenes of the film “Deadpool” almost by chance, but the Swedish brand, along with the iconic Crocs footwear, has an organic presence in the plotline. Just a few seconds of screen time in a large and successful project, and lasting associations are built.

The same is true about Audi R8. The auto is as if created especially for Iron Man:

Even when product placement is parodied, it still works. This was the case with the heavily branded and iconic scene from the comedy “Wayne’s World” where the sheer amount of branded products is excessive in every frame.

According to Brandon Gaille, 60% of viewers have a positive view of brands they recognize while watching a movie. Moreover, product placement in a film can increase brand recognition by 20%. In a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, it was noted that product placement, one of the most popular and effective forms of entertainment marketing, competes successfully against traditional advertising because it uses more subtle methods to reach an audience with specific demographics and well-defined interests and characteristics.

Co-branding

Co-branding is a strategy where two brands collaborate to increase the recognition of both. Such integrations provide an opportunity to reach new audiences or expand the current one. A prominent example of joint promotion is the collaboration between BMW and Louis Vuitton. You may wonder what is similar between an automotive giant and a luxury fashion brand.

They hove more in common that it may seem. Primarily, the target audience, which is wealthy people ready to pay for unique, elegant, and luxurious items.

Co-branding indeed requires more effort and careful planning compared to product placement. Developing strategies for co-branding involves a thorough process, and it’s essential for the values and target audience of both brands to align. The integration should appear as natural as possible to be successful.

Some other examples of successful co-branding include Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the television show American Idol, where Coca-Cola’s products were featured in advertisements and on the set. Nike has also had a long-lasting collaboration with the NBA, creating uniforms and footwear for teams.

Cooperation between brands and influencer

In the era of social media, collaboration between businesses and celebrities or influencers with a loyal and active audience, even if they do not have millions of followers, is becoming increasingly important. For example, pop star Doja Cat was selected as a global ambassador for the JBL brand. She promoted the brand’s products and engaged her followers on TikTok.

Influencer marketing is a highly effective tool. According to Oracle, 37% of consumers trust influencers on various social media platforms more than the brands themselves. Statista also provides interesting statistics, showing that 45% of micro-influencer subscribers have tried products or services based on their recommendations.

Ad campaigns featuring George Clooney and Jean Dujardin for Nespresso can be viewed as short films

Marketers collaborate with celebrities to promote brands for a reason, as people eagerly buy products endorsed by their favorite artists. The partnership of Fenty x PUMA by Rihanna exceeded the expectations of the sports giant. In the European online store of the brand, 3500 pairs of sneakers from the eponymous collection were sold within just 35 minutes after the start of sales.

Licensing

This type of entertainment marketing combines joint promotion and brand integration between the brand owner and the licensee. To attract a specific audience, the licensee uses the intellectual property of the brand owner.

For example, Junction Point and Nintendo developed the game “Epic Mickey” under a license from Walt Disney. The partnership was successful for all parties because in 2010, there were 100 million owners of Nintendo Wii consoles. Later on, users of PlayStation and Xbox 360 could also enjoy playing with the iconic character.

Conclusion

If you want to reach a new audience, develop your entertainment marketing strategy. If social proof is important to you, consider collaborating with influencers. If you want to build strong associations with consumers, co-branding can be a great option. Product placement is a proven strategy for all brands.

You can start by analyzing your competitors, monitoring the market and trends. It’s essential to track the audience’s reactions, engage with them, and interact. Most importantly, be authentic, interesting, and remember the precise positioning of your product, which should be relevant to the audience and their needs.

Do you use entertainment marketing to promote your brand? Share your strategies and thoughts in the comments!

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