As if marketing were not enough work, add the tasks of film-making, entertainment and concert promotion to their job descriptions: Consumers expect it, and younger consumers practically demand it.
Nearly one third of consumers expect brands to entertain them and provide free online video content, finds the global public-relations firm Edelman. And, young adults 18-34 are more likely than those 35+ to seek out brands they are exposed to through branded entertainment. Finally, nearly 50% of Americans agree that a brand must fit with the entertainment and content for branded entertainment to be effective. Too hard a sales push just turns them off (which hardly seems fair).
Case in point, the Ford Motor Company-funded unscripted show “Escape Routes” which tanked miserably this spring on NBC, with ratings shares as low as 0.3. “Escape Routes” was a broadcast/interactive mashup with six teams of two participating in a road-trip competition with real-world challenges, all while driving the new Ford Escape. Viewers could interact real-time with the teams through Google Hangouts—but largely chose not to.
More acceptable: Pepsi and Billboard sponsoring their "Summer Beats" live series which launched on Tuesday. Consumers could watch Katy Perry perform in a live stream on Pepsi.com and Twitter.com/Pepsi, free of charge (of course).
Perceptions & Expectations of BrandsMATTER, Edelman's dedicated sports, entertainment and experiential marketing company, released its findings in its inaugural "Brand Engagement in the Era of Social Entertainment" study.
The study reveals that fully one third of respondents overall and 42% of young adult respondents (18-34) indicated they want brands to entertain them and, furthermore, to provide free online video content (31% overall versus 39% of young adults). What's more, 20% of respondents overall and 31% of young adult respondents, agree branded entertainment provides entertainment content to which they would not otherwise have access (like the Katy Perry concert).
Approximately one half of respondents who do not have an expectation of being entertained by brands remain largely neutral, feeling neither favorable nor unfavorable (53%) toward branded entertainment. Rather than consider them enlightened, Edelman suggests there is substantial growth potential to shift neutral views to positive through providing high-quality, entertaining branded content that is an organic fit with the brand.
Branded Entertainment Receptiveness
Young adults (18–34) are more likely than those aged 35+ to seek out brands they are exposed to through branded entertainment. One-third of adult respondents 18-34 indicate they not only trust brands that provide free content more than those who do not but also want to hear more from them (36%). This presents an opportunity for brands to forge deeper, more meaningful relationships with audiences via compelling branded entertainment content.
Nearly half of respondents agree a brand must fit with the entertainment and content for branded entertainment to be effective. Nearly 45% reported having been exposed to branded entertainment that felt forced.
"There's an abundance of branded content in the marketplace – some is compelling, some not," said Andy Marks, general manager, MATTER. "Creating and curating content, or integrating into existing entertainment must be approached strategically in order to ensure integration is organic and unobtrusive. When dealing with audiences who want and expect to be entertained, working with creative and strategic partners who understand how to strike the right balance within the creative process between delivering entertainment value and highlighting brand attributes is critical. If done correctly, branded entertainment can be a powerful vehicle to make deeper connections between brands and their audiences."
The "Brand Engagement in the Era of Social Entertainment Survey" is an online survey among 1,000 18+ year-old consumers in the U.S. conducted between May 24 and May 27, 2012. The research was commissioned by MATTER, and conducted by StrategyOne, an independent market research firm.