From prequels to pop-up stores, from Facebook Live after-shows to mobile games, theater plays to fan fiction. Today’s stories don’t just live in one format or one linear progression. New research from WPP’s Mindshare delves into this “media multiverse," examining 35 leading content franchises and the implications of this interconnected landscape for marketers.
"If done the right way, advertiser-created experiences in the multiverse can build a remarkable amount of brand love—more so than what a brand could do on its own," says Joe Maceda, managing director, Invention Studio lead, Mindshare NA.
Mindshare outlines a number of key opportunities for advertisers seeking to leverage these increasingly extended and popular properties.
Brands should explore activations beyond the core property. For example, "Breaking Bad," the now-concluded AMC series with Bryan Cranston, has extended beyond the original TV show into a pop-up restaurant, pop-up bar, as well as a stand-alone prequel—“Better Call Saul”-- which then spawned its own after-show.
“We’ve entered the next stage of storytelling, where everything is interconnected and media properties are focusing on depth instead of mass reach," says Autumn Nazarian, senior vice president, Spotlight lead, Mindshare NA.
And as consumers start paying for more franchise content directly via subscription services, media properties will have even more control over their storytelling and distribution. And that means, the study surmises, fewer or no commercials providing a potentially smaller place at the table for advertisers.
Thus, advertisers must identify which particular franchises align best with their brand DNA, and what the opportunities are for sponsorship and integration. "Examine your current media buys to understand your presence within franchises across channels," the report recommends. Figure out what unique features and properties your brand can bring to a franchise; how your brand can help fans to more deeply enter these worlds.
Also, fans don’t wait for the next season or the next film. Instead, they take matters into their own hands, whether it’s home-made movie trailers, cosplay (dressing up as a character) at fan conventions, or online fanfiction. For example, nearly 11 million visitors contributed to or read fanfiction on one of the three major fanfiction sites in August 2017 alone.
Brands that can leverage that multiverse fan passion will win per the Mindshare study.
The usual list of franchises rank as fan favorites. Pixar, Disney, and Game of Thrones rank the highest out of the 35 franchises surveyed against total audience. The top TV-based franchises include "Game of Thrones" and "The Walking Dead."
When evaluating only TV-specific franchises, "House Hunters" scored the highest for familiarity, but "Chopped" had the highest appeal. Few respondents indicated that they would like to see more of The Kardashians, Angry Birds, or The Bachelor.
Mindshare NA released its research as a collaborative project between several teams, as well as with E-Poll on a custom survey across 1,337 U.S. consumers ranging in ages 13-54. The research queried awareness, viewing behaviors, likeability and desire to see additional content from each franchise.