NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- A survey by the Association of National Advertisers found that more marketers are using branded entertainment this year than last year, and most are doing it because they believe it is an effective way to reach consumers. The results of the second annual survey were unveiled at ANA's and the Association of Independent Commercial Producers' "The Forum for Branded Entertainment …Live!" held yesterday in the "Saturday Night Live" studio at NBC.
In front of the well-known "SNL" Grand Central facade, a panel moderated by Advertising Age's Associate Publisher Scott Donaton, explored the results of ANA's Branded Entertainment Survey. Panelists included Pam Dickey, executive director-brand advertising at AOL; Colleen Milway, global media director, Campbell Soup Co.; and Jak Severson, managing partner of Madison Road Entertainment.
ANA's study compiled responses from 117 client-side marketers and compared the results to a similar survey conducted last year. Sixty-six percent of respondents indicated that their companies participated in branded-entertainment projects (up slightly from 63% in 2005). Respondents said they are using branded entertainment because they find the strategy to be effective, and not just because it is trendy. Only 2% of the respondents indicated that they chose to use branded entertainment because it is a hot new communications tool, down from 9% in 2005.
Most respondents who said they don't use branded entertainment did so because their brands don't lend themselves to meaningful integration. The panel spoke about the importance of matching a product with its placement, a theme that was revisited throughout the conference. Explaining his strategy for selecting advertising partners, Mr. Severson said: "If the brand doesn't make the show better, the brand doesn't make the show."
Don't force it
Advertisers also want their product to fit seamlessly into the entertainment. If a placement looks forced, it alienates viewers and defeats the purpose of the placement. Ms Dickey said AOL's goal when placing a product is to have the viewers ask themselves, "Did the company pay for that or were they just lucky?"
The inability to measure branded entertainment's impact was a major concern among many respondents. Ms. Milway said this was sometimes an issue for Campbells because there's no good way to measure buzz. A multitude of marketing elements drive the business so it is hard to isolate how much each marketing strategy contributes to sales.
Eighty percent of companies participating in branded entertainment used TV as their medium of choice, while 45% used theatrical movies and 28% have used the Web.
In the second panel of the day, moderated by Mitchell Kanner, founder and CEO of 2 Degrees Ventures, the discussion focused on the need to use a multiplatform approach. Panelists included Hugh Miskel, director-event marketing, Home Depot; Steve Pacheco, managing director-advertising, FedEx Corp.; Simon Renshaw, president, Strategic Artists Management; Sarah Ross, senior director-partnership and integrated content marketing, Yahoo; Ben Silverman, co-creator and executive producer of NBC's "The Biggest Loser" and CEO of Reveille; and Gayle Troberman, senior director-branded entertainment, Microsoft Corp.
Panelists spoke at length about how the Internet can be an excellent way to leverage TV exposure as well as an effective entertainment property in its own right. Advertisers praised consumers' engagement with the Web, as well as its ability to deliver hard numbers so marketers can demonstrate return on investment. Panelists cited Pontiac's tie-in with NBC's "The Apprentice." By directing people to Pontiac's Web site through keywords, Pontiac got enough responses in the first 41 minutes after the brand appeared on the show to generate the sale of 1,000 cars.
The panel also praised the ability of the Web to create an ongoing relationship between an audience and a brand. "It's very different than producing your 60-second spot, buying your media and walking away," Ms. Troberman said. Yet, the panelists emphasized the best bet is integrating the presentation of a message between media, rather than pulling ad dollars from TV and directing them all online. "TV is still the big engine driving this bus," Mr. Silverman said.