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Branded content (also known as branded entertainment) is a form of advertising which involves the provision of original content by the advertiser. The content attempts to build brand awareness by associating it with content that is funded or outright produced by the advertiser. In contrast to content marketing (in which content is presented first and foremost as a marketing ploy),[1] promotion of the product is not necessarily the primary purpose of branded content, but is still otherwise designed to make the brand synonymous with the content that it endorses, and may share its values.

Contrary to traditional product placement, where the brand is placed within the content, branded content places the content within the brand. Unlike conventional forms of editorial content, branded content is generally funded entirely by a brand or corporation rather than studio or a group of solely artistic producers, and is used in film, video games, music, the internet, events, installations and television. Modern branded marketing strategies are intended primarily to counter market trends, such as the decreasing acceptance of traditional commercials or low-quality advertorials.[2][3]

Contents

HistoryEdit

Early examplesEdit

The concept of branded content dates back to the early era of broadcasting; many early radio and television programs were controlled by their sponsors and branded with their names, including the Colgate Comedy Hour, Hallmark Hall of Fame, and Westinghouse Studio One. Typically, the sponsor coordinated the entire production of the program, with the broadcaster only providing studios and airtime. These programs featured segments that promoted the sponsor's products, including appearances by a brand's spokesperson, and demonstrations of new products. Notable spokespeople often became celebrities in their own right, such as Betty Furness, a B-movie actress whose fame was elevated after becoming a spokesperson for Westinghouse appliances on Studio One (Furness would later work as a consumer affairs reporter for WNBC-TV in New York City).[4][5] Many melodramatic serial dramas targeting a female audience, such as As the World Turns, were produced by the consumer goods company Procter & Gamble; their heavy involvement in the genre led to them being dubbed "soap operas".[6] The Revlon cosmetics company famously sponsored the quiz show The $64,000 Question; when it became the most-watched program on U.S. television, Revlon became a household name through its prominent promotion.[4]

However, in the late-1950's, the quiz show scandals exposed that several major quizzes had been manipulated or outright rigged under demand of their sponsors, in order to maintain viewer interest and high ratings. Dotto and Twenty One were at the center of the scandal, when it was found that the two quiz shows had rigged games due to demands by sponsors. Testimony by a producer of The $64,000 Question revealed that Revlon founder Charles Revson had personally exerted control over the program in order to favor specific contestants. The aftermath of the scandals, as well as increasing production costs due to the rollout of color television and other factors, prompted networks to assert creative control over the production and scheduling of their programming, rather than having them be controlled by their sponsors. Broadcasters also phased out of the "single sponsor" model in favor of allowing sponsors to purchase blocks of time during breaks in a program to run commercials instead.[7][8][9][10][11]

Conventional product placement and cross-promotion still appeared in films and television, although it was often argued that overuse of placements can distract from the entertainment value of the work; the film Mac and Me was widely-criticized for containing frequent integration of Coca-Cola and McDonald's as major aspects of the film's plot (going as far as crediting the chain's mascot Ronald McDonald as appearing in the film "as himself").[12][13][14] Hallmark Hall of Fame still occasionally aired on broadcast TV until 2014, when it was announced that the franchise would move to Hallmark's co-owned cable channel Hallmark Channel in the future.[15]

Modern examplesEdit

After releasing its hockey-themed film The Mighty Ducks, Disney established a National Hockey League expansion team known as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, which was named in reference to the film. Disney subsequently produced two Mighty Ducks film sequels, and an animated series inspired by the team set in a fictional version of Anaheim; the films and cartoon also featured cameos by Mighty Ducks players. These works bolstered the Mighty Ducks by placing additional content within its brand, and created synergies between the team and Disney's core entertainment business. The NHL in particular felt that the Mighty Ducks cartoon could help to promote the game of hockey among a younger audience, and counter the stereotype of hockey being associated with Canada and the U.S. northeast. Team merchandise, which was sold at Disney Parks and Disney Store locations in addition to the NHL's main retail channels, were the best-selling among all teams for a period.[16][17]

In 2001, automaker BMW began a marketing campaign entitled The Hire, in which it produced a series of short films featuring A-list directors (such as Guy Ritchie) and talent that prominently featured its vehicles. The films were advertised through television, print, and online marketing which directed viewers to a BMW Films website, where they could stream the films, and access ancillary information such as information about their featured vehicles. BMW also distributed the films on DVD with Vanity Fair magazine to increase their distribution among the company's target audience; by the end of the campaign in 2005, the eight-film series had amassed over 100 million views, and several of the films had received both advertising-related and short film awards. .[18][19]

In 2010, Procter & Gamble and Walmart began to fund a series of made for TV films, distributed through the former's Procter & Gamble Productions division, such as The Jensen Project and Secrets of the Mountain. They were all targeted towards family viewing, aired primarily on NBC as time-buys, and featured product placement for P&G brands and Walmart's store brand Great Value. In turn, Walmart erected promotional displays of P&G products related to each film, and sold the films on DVD immediately after their broadcast. Both companies used exclusive advertising time during the films to promote their products. P&G reported that the favorability of the products featured in Secrets of the Mountain increased by 26% among mothers who saw the film. Advertising Age felt that despite lukewarm reception and viewership, "as case studies for successful branded entertainment, they've become the holy grail of how networks and marketers can use entertainment to achieve scalable audiences, measurable product sales and active fan communities."[20][21][22]

The energy drink company Red Bull has relied heavily on branded content as part of its marketing strategies. The company operates several Media House studios, which coordinate the production and distribution of original content targeted towards the interests of its target market of young adults, particularly extreme sports. Alongside digital media content such as online video, and print media such as The Red Bulletin, Red Bull has also organized events and sports competitions which carry its name, such as the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, Crashed Ice, and Flugtag competitions, music festivals and events, and a skydive from the Earth's stratosphere by Felix Baumgartner. These ventures are consistent with the company's image, and bolsters its position as a lifestyle brand in these categories—building awareness of the Red Bull name without needing to promote the namesake beverage itself. An executive for Red Bull Media House North America remarked that the growth of digital media platforms had made it easier for brands to produce and distribute their own content, and stressed that branded content was most effective when it is "authentic" and high-quality.[23][24][25]

Research and IssuesEdit

In 2003, the Branded Content Marketing Association was formed in order to promote branded content to a wider, international audience. In January 2008, the BCMA conducted a study intending to analyze the efficacy of branded content compared to traditional advertising. Reportedly, over one-third of people were skeptical about traditional ads, and only one-tenth trusted the companies producing such adverts. The study concluded that "in the overwhelming majority of cases consumers preferred the more innovative approach compared with traditional advertising".[26] Over 95% of the time, web sites that feature branded content were more successful than web sites featuring typical advertisements, and are 24% more effective at increasing the purchase intent of viewers. Branded content is most effective in the 18-34 age group, who tend to react with more positive opinions and being overall more responsive to branded sites. Online Publishers Association’s President Pam Horan concluded, “In nearly every category measured, ad effectiveness scores on branded content sites were numerically higher than on the web in general, on portals or on ad networks.[27]

These positive results, however, having come from an organization which endeavors to promote the marketing practice, are subject to criticisms of bias.

Award CommunityEdit

Webby and Lovie awards among other had recognized Branded Content as a category in prior instances, but most awards within the advertising community officially began to grow to include branded content in 2012, when "Branded Content/Entertainment" became a category at EuroBest, Dubai Lynx Spikes Asia and Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Content Marketing vs. Native Advertising: Which Is More Effective on Social?". Adweek. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  2. ^ "Consumers Coming to Accept Native Advertising Done Right". EContent Magazine. 2014-07-28. Retrieved 2015-12-17. 
  3. ^ Atkinson, Claire (14 April 2008). "Testing The Boundaries of Branded Entertainment". Advertising Age. 79 (15): S–12–S–18. 
  4. ^ a b Samuel, Lawrence R. (2009-03-06). Brought to You By: Postwar Television Advertising and the American Dream. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292774766. 
  5. ^ Severo, Richard (1994-04-04). "Betty Furness, 78, TV Reporter And Consumer Advocate, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  6. ^ Carter, Bill; Stelter, Brian (2009-12-08). "CBS Cancels 'As the World Turns,' Last Procter & Gamble Soap". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  7. ^ ROSENBERG, HOWARD (1992-01-06). "A Fascinating Documentary on the '50s Quiz Show Scandals". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  8. ^ Goodman, Walter (1992). "TELEVISION VIEW; For $64,000: Who Lost in the Big Fix?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  9. ^ "Encyclopedia of Television - Quiz Show Scandals". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2016-10-15. 
  10. ^ ROSENBERG, HOWARD (1992-01-06). "A Fascinating Documentary on the '50s Quiz Show Scandals". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  11. ^ "AdAge Encyclopedia of Advertising: 1950s". Advertising Age. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  12. ^ Rabin, Nathan. "Ronald McDonald Approved Case File #151: Mac And Me". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2017-11-29. 
  13. ^ Harrison, Eric (1999-08-29). "Branded Into the Scenery: Commentary: Advertising is so much a part of life that it's understandable to find familiar products in films. But sometimes it goes too far". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  14. ^ WILMINGTON, MICHAEL (1988-08-15). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Mac and Me' Takes a Big McBite Out of 'E.T.'". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  15. ^ "Hallmark Hall Of Fame Films To Move To Hallmark Channel". Multichannel. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  16. ^ LOWERY, STEVEN (1996-04-10). "Disney and NHL Hope Young Fans Will Be Drawn to Hockey Via Animated Series". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-12-01. 
  17. ^ "The Wide (disney) World Of Sports". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-12-01. 
  18. ^ "BMW Films: The Ultimate Marketing Scheme". iMedia. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  19. ^ "The Hire Film Series By BMW to End". Motor Trend. 2005-10-13. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  20. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2011-04-02). "Procter & Gamble Backs Another Family Friendly TV Movie/Backdoor Pilot On NBC". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  21. ^ Schneider, Michael (2010-02-22). "Walmart's and Procter & Gamble's family-friendly primetime gamble". Variety. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  22. ^ "P&G, Walmart Find Success as Moviemakers for Their Brands". Advertising Age. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  23. ^ "Branded content lessons from Red Bull Media House". Marketing. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  24. ^ O'Brien, James. "How Red Bull Takes Content Marketing to the Extreme". Mashable. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  25. ^ Higgins, Matt (2007-03-03). "Red Bull's Headlong Frozen Dash Is a Crash Course in Marketing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  26. ^ "Commissioned Research:Milestone Attitudinal Consumer Study". 
  27. ^ Marken, G.A. "Andy" (2006). "Branded Entertainment". Public Relations Quarterly. 51 (4): 2–3.