Let us entertain you: what brands can learn from the entertainment industry

I recently attended the PromaxBDA Europe conference in Amsterdam and it reached its finale in a leather jacket frenzy last Tuesday night as local heroes DutchToast were crowned Agency of the Year. It was a deserved reward for their cannon of loud and enjoyable promos for clients like Sky Cinema and Virgin Media: high-energy mash-ups of movie clips, news footage and cut graphics to loud soundtracks that rocked 120-year-old Amsterdam. the commodity exchange building to its foundations.

A well-kept secret beyond those working in the entertainment marketing industry, PromaxBDA conferences are annual gatherings dedicated to the generous sharing of best practices, fresh ideas, and groundbreaking creative work. So what came out of this year’s conference to inspire marketers who wouldn’t define their brands with the label “entertainment”? What are the best ideas non-media marketers can steal? And I mean theft in plain sight. As Richard Holman of the Holman & Hunt agency elegantly reminded us in his session on how to come up with great ideas when you don’t have time, it was Picasso who said “good artists copy, great artists steal”.

Here are some practical takeaways from two stimulating days in the city of canals and cafes that non-entertainment brands would do well to embrace

Make ideas center on you, not the audience

Celebrity branding expert Jeetendr Sehdev kicked off the event by filling the giant screen with Kim Kardashian’s back and daring us to stop asking what the public wants. Instead, we should just give them the power to decide whether they like us or not. (As a creative agency that prides itself on public insight, this came as a shock to the Red Bee gang.)

Sehdev’s mantra was to be 100% authentic at all times: find out what’s unique about your brand, then amplify it, don’t be afraid of overexposure and trust that your flaws make you compelling. He says it’s the key to connecting with those elusive millennials, 62% of whom find Kim Kardashian “inspiring.” To build on this, her Kim Kardashian Principle expands on how “complete transparency generates a level of authenticity and intimacy with audiences that traditional marketing tactics simply can’t touch.”

Don’t tease, reveal

A session by Charlie Mawer and Jim de Zoete from our own team on the future of promotional campaigns included at least two topics relevant to non-media marketers and this is the first. Charlie pointed out how today’s audience wants more information about a show, earlier and earlier, before they commit to watching. In response, there are several examples, from Taylor Swift to Star Wars, of trailers themselves being promoted in advance.

Late last year, the Fast & Furious team produced a 150-minute featurette promoting Fast 8’s “first live-action trailer event.” Premiere dates are also announced several months away. advance, for example Netflix kicks off the season of Stranger Things in this year’s Super Bowl, with fans having to wait until Halloween for the first episode. If non-media marketers got used to promoting their advertising this far in advance, would that encourage them to make these campaigns more genuinely entertaining?

Tell your story live

When a group of paratroopers formed Honda’s Letters to Spain in 2008, it was hailed by Channel 4 as the first-ever fully live advert on British television. Since then, prohibitive costs and logistics have meant very few other examples on linear television, but the introduction of Facebook Live has opened up many new opportunities.

Facebook now promotes live video more than any other format in News Feed and says users will spend three times longer watching live video than normal video. Last year, Red Bee took the opportunity to create live online experiences for Nissan and London’s Midtown. In Amsterdam, German broadcasters RTL and Fox showed how they took live storytelling to another level with their interactive Facebook game to promote The Walking Dead Season 6.

Two popular YouTubers were stuck in a world overrun by zombies and had to follow viewers’ instructions (using Facebook reaction buttons) on what to do next. There are huge opportunities here for brands, but if you want to tell your story live, it better be something people choose to watch.

Have authentic conversations

An inspiring case study presented by Dolores Emile from VICELAND showed us how Vice Media’s new TV channel was promoted in France by asking viewers to leave voicemail messages with a simple and open invitation: “if you have time to lose, call us”. And they did, with many of their messages (even negative ones) airing as interstitial content.

According to Dolores, this idea was social in nature and demonstrated that VICELAND is human, real and personal. Creating authentic conversations like this is something Jeetendr Sehdev would endorse and all brands can learn from. It’s one thing to invite your audience to tell you what they really think, but it’s a much bolder thing to turn those contributions into your marketing.

Try “storymixing”

One of the joys of PromaxBDA conferences is that you can spend two days simply indulging in all things television: new shows, new formats and new learnings. Sahar Baghery from research firm Eurodata TV Worldwide spoke to us about narrative boundaries being pushed and challenged and introduced the concept of “storymixing”.

Good examples are the National Geographic Channel’s MARS miniseries, which combines documentary storytelling with scripted elements and special effects, and the BBC’s Six Wives starring Lucy Worsley, in which the historian doesn’t just recount the story in the traditional way, but also appear as characters in re-enactment scenes. There’s a big opportunity for non-media brands to apply this thinking to their advertising and content.

Make your video vertical

From a storytelling technique to a production technique: the Red Bee session focused on the influence of video viewing on portable devices on formats. Smartphone users hold their phones vertically 94% of the time and the result is vertical video: forget 16:9, it’s 9:16.

According to Snapchat, vertical video ads are watched 9 times more than horizontal video ads, which opens up new creative opportunities.

In Australia, the Vertical Film Festival is now in its second year and marketers need look no further for inspiration.

Create brand footprints

By necessity, entertainment marketers are among the best at creating consistent brand experiences across platforms, and case studies from crime channel 13th Street and Spanish pay-TV network Movistar+ demonstrated how social and digital media were central to the creation of global brand identities.

In a multi-screen world, all brands must increasingly think about how they function as icons, as identifiers for social media feeds, and as unequivocally recognizable assets when viewed. at a glance. Our team coined the term “brand footprints” to describe this new approach to graphic design for mobile screens.

Integrate entertainment into every brand touchpoint

Among the 700 marketers and creatives gathered in Amsterdam, the global design director of a local brand stood out for me – Mark van Iterson of Heineken. His session clearly demonstrated how a brand outside of the entertainment industry has integrated entertainment into its marketing far beyond paid advertising and branded content.

As the best TV brands have always known, entertainment value must begin with the packaging and Heineken lives this principle in its R&D. Sponsorship activation is also entertainment driven, starting with the UEFA Champions League and their CSR messages are also very watchable content items, for example a beautifully crafted drink driving movie featuring Sir Jackie Stewart.

Create magic from existing content

Finally, going back to DutchToast, if European Entertainment Marketing Agency of the Year is determined less by specially shot and original concepts and more by the highly skillful and creative compilation of existing footage, imagine what Non-media brands could realize (and how much money they could save) by not automatically defaulting to shooting new material for every campaign.

Richard Holman’s session included a celebration of the title sequence of Amazon Studios’ see-through comedy-drama, a lovingly produced atmospheric montage of old VHS footage evoking some of the show’s main themes.

In a world increasingly hungry for video content, the default solutions of traditional ad agencies will become less and less relevant to everyone, but the biggest TV campaigns and brands outside of the media industry could do much worse than to turn to entertainment marketing for inspiration, new learning and practical and profitable creativity.

Andy Bryant is Managing Director of Red Bee.