| by Branded Entertainment

The Brand Integration Moment is Now Part I

The definitive guide to brand integrationThe definitive guide to brand integration

The days of brand integration as a ‘nice to have’ are  long gone. It is now a highly-viable, effective part of the  marketing mix. Additionally, the fast-growing volume of  content choice, scale and measurability combined with  increasing use of ad blocking, illustrates that the space  is ripe for brands to take full advantage early and often.

Brand integration has, and continues to be, an  important staple of entertainment. Research  indicates that the practice may have begun, at  least on the big screen, as early as 1876 with  Auguste and Louis Lumiere featuring Sunlight  soap in their films.

In more recent eras, television and radio were  rich grounds for brands with entire programs  being underwritten by companies. In fact, it was Procter & Gamble whose sponsorship and  production of daytime TV dramas helped coin the term ‘soap operas’ — entertaining audiences  around the world and providing businesses a  platform for brand messages.

Though those were mainly product  sponsorships, the evolution of brand  integration, especially within storylines, has  evolved dramatically. There are plenty of gold  standards often cited by fans and brand experts  alike including Reese’s Pieces in E.T., Wonder  Bread in Talledega Nights and Eggo in Stranger Things. Yet there are thousands of integrations that  may not have garnered as much press but prove  highly effective.

Today, the sheer volume of choice, combined  with the consumer desire to avoid advertising  and the advent of streaming content, presents a  unique and formidable opportunity for brands. A recent study by PQ Media shows that global  branded entertainment revenues rose 8% in 2017,  with double-digit growth in brand integration and  placement.

Even with an ever-expanding content universe,  Greg Isaacs, chief product and marketing officer at  BEN, believes that the evolution of integration is  “going back to the future in a way.”

“I would argue that, while we might not have  three ‘networks’ I do believe that there will be ten  main players that really matter,” he says.

Aside from more traditional networks, Isaacs  believes that the likes of Netflix, YouTube, Amazon,  HBO, Facebook and a smattering of others will  emerge as the dominant players in the space.

“I also believe that we’re going back to a world  where integration matters most,” Isaacs notes.  “Integration, done well, is authentic and effective.”

Outside of more traditional entertainment  content, the emergence of influencers, a $570m  market according to eMarketer, is yet another layer  that brands can leverage and, according to Isaacs,  will “continue to be hugely powerful.”


The budget move to integration

Ricky Ray Butler, chief executive officer at BEN, has  seen a consistent and progressive shift of budgets  to brand integration. Though it is dependent on the brand, a recent development by Target  underscores the importance and power of the  practice.

In March, the brand worked with NBCUniversal  on a full integration of the show Superstore in  one episode. This complete takeover made a  significant impact and Rick Gomez, executive vice  president and chief marketing officer of Target  saw the benefit. He said that: “To be an effective  marketer, we have to be able to meet our guests  where they are, and when it comes to broadcast, that can be challenging as the trend of ad-skipping  increases,”

“We’ve seen strong results from our custom  integrations, like the one we’ve created with  NBCU for Superstore. In fact, they’ve proven more  effective than a traditional TV spot,” he adds.

Butler sees the largest brand budget shifts from  experimental and television advertising.

“It’s very brand-dependent but I think the big  story is that money is shifting into integration,  which is exciting.”

Adds Aaron Frank, senior vice president,  marketing, strategy and insights at BEN: “The shift is where integration isn’t a ‘nice to have’ but  a necessity in the marketing mix. And, as a brand,  you can still be early enough that you can be a  little bit of a trailblazer in the space and have  competitive advantage.”

The Definitive Guide to Brand Integration gives brands the upper hand on making a real, tangible impact. Learn what makes integration effective, how measurement continues to evolve, the influencer space and more. Click here to download this critical intelligence today.


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