Media Experts Give Insight into Branded Entertainment

Advertising Women of New York(AWNY) members packed into the Plaza Suite at the Roosevelt Hotel for the Media Insights Breakfast Event: “Branded Entertainment, Advertising’s New Paradigm or Pandora’s Box?” The event was moderated by Joe Mandese, editor of MediaPost and featured panelists: David Carey, President of Conde Nast Business Media; Peter Gardiner, Chief Marketing Officer of Deutsch; Julie Kantrowitz, Chief Marketing Officer of Full Circle Entertainment; and Neal Lattner, Senior Director of Strategic Communications at Sharp.

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Branded entertainment enables companies to connect with their target audience through rich media and interactive content. Its purpose is to entertain while giving brands the opportunity to echo their commercial benefits.  Although branded entertainment presents some obvious advantages to advertisers such as active engagement with consumers, its effectiveness is riddled with uncertainty, which has some media experts questioning its value – and even its ethical justification.

“Branded entertainment has the potential to kill the goose as people are raising their threshold when it comes to media,” said David Carey. “Once you cross the lines in media it’s hard to go back.” He also noted the importance of the authenticity of content and full transparency when doing product placement.

Julie Kantrowitz argued that branded entertainment provides ample opportunities for growth. “It enhances storytelling and does not hurt the viewing experience at all,” said Kantrowitz. “Our company uses the promotional angle to create a more impactful engagement experience.”

Peter Gardiner agreed there are several benefits to incorporating branded entertainment into your promotional mix, but suggested more research on consumer reactions is needed to determine its validity.

When asked if there were any obligations to bend over backwards for consumers, Neal Lattner replied: “There are no legal bounds as long as the content provider has worked closely with the company.”  He added that each publication is responsible for which lines are crossed.

So, how do you know if branded entertainment works? “It’s difficult to measure huge campaigns in terms of how a specific advertisement impacts the brand,” said Gardiner. He further argued that the focus should be on the value of what you’re doing, not on how a three-second spot affects brand recall.

 Overall, in order for branded entertainment to be effective there has to be balance, said Kantrowitz. “Once the meter goes off the charts and consumer reactions become negative, you have to pull back. There is constantly a push-pull between what is creative and what is effective on the screen.” She concluded, however, that depending upon its execution, “branded entertainment does work.”

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