How branded entertainment became a staple in commercial advertising

Advertising has been around almost as long as products have been sold. While the trends of commercial advertising have evolved significantly over the years, the one constant is that companies will follow trends of where consumers will see their messages about their products. "Advertainment", also known as branded entertainment, is one trend that has picked up a lot of attention.

Image credit: Geralt via Pixabay

Throughout the generations, ads have been seen in newspapers, theatre commercials, radio, television, and most recently, social media, to name a few prominent spaces. For a time, the State of California even considered adding digital advertising to its license plates. Over the history of marketing, the presence of these ads was pretty blatant. Not so much with branded entertainment.

What exactly is advertainment?

Advertainment is content that integrates commercial products with a storyline. Sometimes viewers do not even realize they are being shown advertisements. It can be displayed in the form of subtle product placement in a scene of a TV show or specific mention of brands in a show's dialogue. It may or may not even mention the brand name at all, but is implied to the viewer. Other approaches are very product-centric, but the write-up is so interesting and/or creative, the advertising becomes the entertainment in itself.

Why branded entertainment?

In the age of fast-forwarding, TiVo, and web advertising, people are not in tune with commercials the way they were in the past. Advertisers spend their budgets on expensive commercials that many viewers might be simply skipping over, or worse, becoming immune to with all the ads presented. In this respect, the ads lose effectiveness and the investment in marketing is a waste of precious advertising monies. With branded entertainment, the line between entertainment and advertising blurs.

In April 2013, the Bravo Network announced it was looking to include an increased number of sponsorships in its 2013-2014 seasons. The network, owned by NBC Universal, had given a pitch to ad buyers at that time. The network made public its plans to step up efforts with both its scripted and unscripted shows.

Future of advertainment

As current trends indicate, the advertainment approach is likely going to be included in many marketing plans. Creators of advertainment emphasize the content is king concept and note the marketing of products should not detract from the content itself or appear intrusive to viewers; basically, it is not "in your face" advertising that society has historically been accustomed to.
“What’s most important is that the content flows, and makes sense, for the viewer,” Dan Lovinger, executive vice president for cable ad sales at NBC Universal, said in an interview after the Bravo presentation, reported the New York Times in 2013, “helping to tell the story of the episode.”
The main thing is brands want to not only connect with viewers but also keep their attention. Advertising will go where current trends are headed, (think Netflix and Amazon Prime as points out), and with so many other ways for consumers to avoid advertisements these days, it appears branded entertainment not only is here to stay, but it has a bright future.

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