Commentary

Branded Entertainment Comes Cheaper Than You Think

Ready to do some high-profile, high-priced branded entertainment deals? Cut back on your usual $4.25 Starbucks latte, give it to the valet at the studio, and you're in.

Contrary to public opinion--and the $15 million or so you need to be a big branded entertainment sponsor of "Survivor"--it actually comes way cheap, according to Edelman Public Relations.

Edelman recently acquired a new branded entertainment agency, Matter, in its efforts to boost the entertainment-marketing prowess of its corporate clients. That's when it let out this secret--of sorts.

"In a world where the cost of media distribution is becoming negligible, Matter will support our clients by creating original content or co-creating branded content directly with audiences," Pam Talbot, U.S. CEO of Edelman, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Now, in all honestly, much of this lower cost media distribution probably has to do with Edelman's bread-and-butter business--media public relations. That kind of free distribution comes at a fraction of the cost of paid media.

Edelman isn't the only one touting the relatively cheap entry into branded entertainment. Norm Marshall, chairman/CEO of veteran entertainment marketing agency NMA Entertainment & Marketing, has said more than three-quarters of his deals don't require fees for the media.

All of which brings us back to the point of modern-day branded entertainment in the first place. Except for a few--perhaps a handful of Mark Burnett shows, such as CBS's "Survivor" and "The Apprentice"--there really aren't that many shows charging big fees for branded entertainment. The vast majority of big money from branded deals actually goes to the less glamorous areas of an entertainment marketing arrangement with a network or TV show.

That is, how much can corporate clients fork over for paid media-- regular TV commercials, print ads, radio spots, Internet advertising and the like. Those traditional ad dollars still rule the business--controlled by big media advertising sales chiefs, who make those rules.

Maybe that's why General Motors got out of "Survivor" after all. It was all business--not about the show's new competitive race relations format. Spending $15 million for each edition of "Survivor" amounted to overpaying for a traditional TV schedule--one that, in General Motors' case, wasn't really helping sell many cars.

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