What Every Marketer Needs Is a CEO

Hiring a Chief Entertainment Officer Should Be a Strategic Imperative

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% Your customers love entertainment!

They consume entertainment to experience excitement, capture fun, and feel joy. Entertainment has permeated culture in a startling number of new ways. Count the number of screens that feed you entertainment throughout your day. From automobiles to airplanes, from airports to athletic clubs, from fashion retailers to the front of your new refrigerator, our waking hours are virtually surrounded by screens offering various forms of entertainment.

This entertainment comes from many different sources—motion pictures, TV, theme parks, music, video games, magazines, books, Broadway shows, and newly emerging digital-content options like the DVD and mobile devices.

Consumers also prefer hardware that features higher levels of entertainment. Fifty years ago our parents traded in black-and-white TV screens for color for the greater entertainment value. Today, the change goes deeper because new products like Apple's Ipod are now designed with the entertainment built in! It is survival of the fittest in the consumer marketplace, with the most sophisticated and entertaining products becoming de facto industry standards.

Combine the growth in screens with the growth in appetite for entertainment and you have two forces converging with huge implications for your businesses and products.

Entertainment unites audiences by giving them common emotional experiences; smart businesses skillfully transfer that emotion into their products.

I oversaw Sony's Strategic Marketing group when superstar Will Smith put on Ray Ban sunglasses in the summer blockbuster "Men in Black." The product halo moved from Will's brow to Ray Ban's bottom line, leading to double-digit sales increases.

A NEW GENETIC CODE

So how can corporations systematically and efficiently institutionalize and harness the power of entertainment?

I would recommend the encoding of a marketing-through-entertainment functionality within the DNA of the company, or in other words, empower a savvy and experienced individual as a second CEO, that is, chief entertainment officer.

Think about the advent of the chief information officer position. In fewer than 15 years, CIOs have become instrumental in exploiting the power of information and technology. Will your company tap a chief entertainment officer to help you exploit the power of entertainment as a strategic asset?

ROLE OF THE CEO

The critical function of the chief entertainment officer would not stop at identifying and implementing entertainment solutions across a company's products and services. Of equal importance is infusing the corporate culture with an entertainment mind-set.

Does your company have an overall strategic entertainment plan? Most don't, and that's why the first step is outlining all possible places where entertainment solutions can connect with customers to drive your business. Once the plan is developed, the CEO strives to realize the possibilities through appropriate entertainment solutions. It's about maximizing the intrinsic value of your products by finding entertainment elements that boost their appeal.

To accomplish these goals, your CEO would concentrate on three corporate disciplines: marketing, operations and product design.

  • Marketing
    Marketing and entertainment are closely linked and highly visible disciplines. Consider movie tie-ins, celebrity endorsements, integrated television content, branded games, DVDs and music. Selecting the right entertainment-based marketing initiatives delivers cultural relevance, advertising impact and promotional pull to your products.

  • Operations
    While their impact is frequently underestimated, operations groups can help integrate entertainment into your products and services. Consider the numerous steps required for McDonalds to include a toy in each Happy Meal. Operations are instrumental in delivering entertainment offers.

  • Product Design
    Designing your product offer to include an entertainment platform can ensure success. For example, JetBlue's early product design integrated entertainment screens for every passenger. JetBlue's vibrant, multichannel experience differentiated them from the competition and sold tickets, proving that many passengers prefer a serving of entertainment to a serving of food.
Entertainment is a great thermometer of cultural trends, but trends are perishable and have an expiration date. Your CEO must live on the cutting edge of pop culture and have a proven tracking system to mine the right entertainment equities and trends for your firm. Timing is critical. Your CEO needs to have great instincts to be able to judge the heat of Harry Potter vs. Hello Kitty, "Finding Nemo" vs. SpongeBob or Fifty Cent vs. J-Lo.

%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% In the future, the entertainment economy will expand, and it will increasingly be made up of brands and companies that act like Hollywood in their capability of creating entertainment. Your business will need to find ways to become more entertaining by building alliances that allow you to leverage entertainment. Appointing a CEO is the secret to capturing this. The CEO must find ways that your brands and products can capitalize on entertainment's cultural impact and sales power. As soon as you have appointed a CEO, you will have taken the first and decisive step in entertainment's elusive but powerful return.

Mark Workman is the CEO of FFG-FirstFireworks Group , a Los Angeles-based firm working with brand marketers and entertainment providers in creating entertainment-based marketing solutions. He previously held senior strategic marketing and business development roles at Walt Disney Co., Time Warner, and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

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