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Branded Entertainment™ Primer - Part I

Visual entertainment is in a period of dramatic change. In 2007, I personally believe it hit a specific tipping point — as the mass audience continues to fragment into specific niche groups of lifestyle and interests, and as an amazingly clear difference between film and television viewing comes into focus. Consider the following chart that shows the top grossing movies of 2007.


What’s interesting and telling about this list is that in 2007, all but one of the top 10 grossers for the year ended up being CGI-reliant fantasy/adventure/escape films. Consider that less than five years ago, in 2002, only 4 of the top grossing films were of the same ilk.

Now, consider a similar list for television, of the top rated and viewed shows in 2007.  


Notice the type of shows. Medical/Crime/Subruban dramadeys, or reality and game shows. In general, what has happened is a gradual and now extremely visible bifurcation of interest when it comes to films versus television: consumers go to the theater for the big, rich experience with mind-numbing special effects and total escape. They stay home and watch television, attracted to real stories about (potentially) real people. This proliferation of shows rooted in reality (whether scripted or not — just watch MTV’s The Hills to get confused about the difference) has created a massive push from consumer brands to root themselves within the contexts of the shows, hoping to become organic integrations within the properties.

This contextual placement within entertainment properties where brands try to become organic extensions in order to create a better emotional connection with a consumer is what we now call Branded Entertainment™. This is not to be confused with product placement, which tends to be a more transactional and visual “dumping” of product wherever possible within a property to create associations with it.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • Product Placement simply “places”.
  • Strategic product placement is called “Brand Integration”.
  • Brand Integration within the creative fabric of the entertainment property is Branded Entertainment™.  

Branded Entertainment™  initatives have reached a tipping point. Spending on these initiatives jumped 14.7% in 2007 to $22.3 billion with a CAGR from 2002 to 2007 of 13.4%. The advent of DVRs, the fragmentation of media viewing options, consumer behavior and most importantly, a combination of fear and openness from current marketing leaders across brands have contributed to this incredible growth that we’re seeing today. brent1.png

It is interesting to compare Branded Entertainment™ and product placement spending within films and television. You’ll notice a steep increase in television spending starting in around 2002. This increase, in my opinion, has to do with the advent of reality television into mainstream viewing considerations.


In part II of this series, I’ll examine some of the mechanisms by which you can start turning your product placement activities into Branded Entertainment™ initiatives.

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