This article was published on January 25, 2011

Today’s best in “Branded Entertainment”

Today’s best in “Branded Entertainment”
Amalia Agathou
Story by

Amalia Agathou

Amalia Agathou is the Community Director for The Next Web. She's studied Information and Communication Systems Engineering and has shared he Amalia Agathou is the Community Director for The Next Web. She's studied Information and Communication Systems Engineering and has shared her time between the startup and fashion scene. She has worked as an editor for The Next Web, House& Garden and Glamour magazine. Follow her on Twitter

At the same time when online stars, like “Shit my dad says”, “Bed Intruder” and “Angry Birds” leverage their fame to gain a spot in TV’s landscape, brands seem to be making their move from traditional media to digital. In doing so, brands have transformed from entertainment sponsors to creators.

Branded video in particular often grabs the leading role in digital campaigns. Brands have invested big in the know-how of making a film and collaborating with A-list actors and directors. Brands produce short, easy to share digital videos in an effort to engage with the audience on a deeper more emotional level.

Consumers are open to branded entertainment, especially today’s youth with 66% of 16-24 year olds stating that they would like brands to entertain them. Being ‘entertaining’ apart from creating brand awareness, can even trigger sales in such young ages, with 71% of 16-18 year olds claiming that they are more likely to purchase a brand that has tried to entertain them over one that hasn’t. According to AdAge, branded web series became more than a half-billion dollar business last year, giving away that it has a promising future in 2011 and beyond. Branded entertainment is not so much focused on presenting specific products or services as conveying the brand’s culture and eliciting emotions that will drive consumer’s behavior. Let’s take a look at some prime branded entertainment examples.

Stylized fashion films

Ralph Lauren chose to focus on storytelling mixed with utility features by creating the RL gang, a clickable video, where you can click and shop “the looks of the stars” through a children’s story. Dior produced the Lady Dior saga, a series of four high quality movies (6 to 12 minutes each), starring Marion Cotillard and the use of selected blogs and Twitter to spread the word, as well as a contest, allowing people to discover clues on partner sites. The results: the film was referenced on 1 million sites worldwide and Dior sites saw as many visits in a month as they usually see in 6 months.

Burberry re-enforces its new identity with Burberry Acoustic, a series of videos highlighting the work of emerging British bands, like the Wolf Gang. Gucci worked with the well known for his noir style, Frank Miller, on a short film for Gucci’s “Guilty” fragrance, starring Chris Evans and Evan Rachel Wood. Chanel teamed up with academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese to produce a film for the launch of Chanel’s men’s fragrance, Bleu de Chanel, starring actor Gaspard Ulliel. Chanel’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, tested his talent behind the camera and directed himself a short film that brings its windows and latest looks to life.

Videos that both entertain and inspire conversation

BMW most recently launched “Wherever You Want To Go”, a series of films about the future of mobility. The films that were inspired by BMW’s first electric vehicle concept, ActiveE, feature thinkers and visionaries like Marissa Mayer, VP of location services at Google and Syd Mead, futurist and conceptual designer for Blade Runner. The films aim to spark discussions around how we could deal with present concerns and how technology could shape mobility and cities of the future. LEGO enriched their LEGO click collaboration platform for new ideas relating to toys and technology with short films, like The Brick Thief as means to keep the dialog around ideas and innovation going.

Focusing on the narrative

Intel debuted a new campaign called “Visual Life” for the launch of its Second Generation Intel Core Processor family at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Visual Life encourages consumers to share their experiences through film and photos, while Intel also produced a series of short films featuring inspiratonal personalities, like the famous blogger and fashion photographer Scott Schumann (image right), known as “The Sartorialist”.

Absolut Vodka produced a vintage style short film called Lemon Drop. The film stars Ali Larter and Martin Kove. On Absolut’s Facebook page the fans can not only watch the movie, but also download the movie poster and read the recipe of the homonymous cocktail.

“Singing In The Rain”

Donald O’Connor sings about a powerful secret of showbiz: “Make ’em laugh/ Make ’em laugh/ Don’t you know everyone wants to laugh?/ My dad said “Be an actor, my son/ But be a comical one/ They’ll be standing in lines/ For those old honky tonk monkeyshines”. With this in mind many brands have “spiced up” their online presence with humorous videos.

Hewlett-Packard, on January the 21st presented a live improv event, “HP ePrint Live”, on YouTube, Facebook and mobile, hosted by comedian Rob Riggle to promote ePrint technology. HP encouraged consumers to send a note, a picture, a song, a drawing (whatever strikes them) to its HP Web-connected printer, to provide inspiration for the improv show featuring Rob and members of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Volkswagen demonstrates its new models with “Inside the VW Academy” featuring VW’s “national spokesmodel” Danielle Gumro and Saturday Night Live comedian Bill Hader. VW aims to make the presentation of the cars’ key features, safety, performance and technology captivating, with hilarious lines written by SNL’s writer John Mulaney.

Blentec has been in the arena of branded entertainment since 2006 with the series “Will It Blend” starring the Blendtec founder, Tom Dickson, attempting to blend various household objects. How Blentec manages to stay relevant as time goes by? Tom Dickson makes sure to blend the latest and hottest gadgets and products, feeding off their buzz, for instance on the latest “Will It Blend” episode, Tom blends a Chrome notebook.

Old Spice created the most discussed viral video campaign of 2010 that made history with the 183 individual video responses to fans’ questions posted on social networks. The impact of the campaign was so great that the Old Spice YouTube channel attracted more than 180 million total upload views. IKEA sponsors the hilarious Easy To Assemble online video series created and written by Illeana Douglas, guest starring famous actors like Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Pollak and Jane Lynch and filmed at an Ikea store. The concept is that these actors have decided to get out of show business and work in an Ikea store and subtly features Ikea products (even the famous Swedish meatballs).

Are you a fan of branded entertainment? What are your favorite examples?

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