Brands: Steal These 5 Lessons From Entertainment Marketing Campaigns

For anyone in advertising, fan obsession is the holy grail — when audiences not only seek out your work, but proudly share it as part of the pop-culture conversation. 

Perhaps more than any other industry, entertainment campaigns achieve this level of brand love, with fans regularly tracking the release of advertising, passionately posting about, sharing, and deconstructing it online. 

While it doesn’t hurt to have a great movie or TV show to promote, here are five key principles from entertainment marketing that can help elicit this seemingly elusive response for any brand.

1. Make entertainment, not advertising.The best film and TV ads focus on emotion over information, because audiences don’t just want to know something, they want to feel something.

FX makes campaigns on this emotional level, aiming for conversation and shareability over narrative clarity, like thisteaser for "Atlanta" season 2.



2. Tease, don’t tell.Great entertainment campaigns practice the art of the tease, withholding information to cause the right amount of curiosity. Tease a key element of the story to its climactic revealand audiences will scour the internet for more. 

Netflix’s teaser for "13 Reasons Why” season 2 shows how saying as little as possible can create big buzz, with over 14 million views across social channels.

3. Embrace cinema.In the age of mobile phones, “cinema” doesn’t just mean “big screen.” It’s telling stories through imagery, sound, music, and the artful juxtaposition of all three. 

Cinematic stories are the most powerful, as they aren’t told in words, but created in the viewer’s mind. As Alfred Hitchcock said, “I make movies where they don't have to read the subtitles in Japan.” So should you. HBO’s final "Game Of Thrones" teaser is a prime example.

4. Find strategy in the creative.Strategy is key to reaching the right people, but spending months on it before making anything keeps you from being nimble in today’s lightning-fast media landscape.

Entertainment marketers create relevant work fast without traditional strategists by building creative teams of bingers, gamers, audiophiles, comic-book collectors, sports fans and film nerds.

When a team like this asks “What do I love about this?” instead of “What’s the positioning?,” the strategy naturally emerges. What better way to position a new take on Spider-Man than with creatives that grew up on comic books and have the action figures in their edit bays?

5. Think like a fan.To reach today’s media-savvy consumers, you have to listen. That means learning what they like and speaking to them authentically. In essence, brands need to become fans themselves.

For example, Netflix’s social campaigns feel created by a fellow fanatic, sharing the same enthusiasm for its shows as its audience and engaging in conversations via entertaining, UGC-style posts on its Instagram feed that respond to what its community cares about.

These principles of entertainment marketing are also a roadmap for non-entertainment marketers looking to navigate changes in the way consumers interact with their brands. If you aspire to build brand love and cultural relevance, thinking of your consumers as fans is a great way to start.

1 comment about "Brands: Steal These 5 Lessons From Entertainment Marketing Campaigns".
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  1. PJ Lehrer from NYU, September 20, 2019 at 9:51 a.m.

    It's a mistake to confuse entertainment with persuasion.  The new Doritos campaign amused my students as you can see from their comments.  But no one in the room - users or non-users - said that they bought or ate more Doritos because of it.

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