Branded Entertainment – What It Is and How It Can Help Your Brand

The good old days are a thing of the past when it comes to marketing your brand. Gone are the days when you could simply put out a print or naija gist ad and consumers would flock to the stores to buy your products. One new form of content marketing that looks to take over in a big way, ready or not is branded entertainment (otherwise referred to as native video advertising).

Branded entertainment is a type of content marketing – it’s all about creating entertaining content to capture the attention of potential customers for longer periods than traditional ads. The content is usually delivered online, as video-based series, Web-based magazines, podcasts, and more. A great example of branded entertainment is Lego’s interactive children’s magazines.

Which feature as characters toys that readers can purchase from its store. Many other brands are currently investing in branded entertainment, including fashion giant Dior, male grooming products maker Old Spice, and energy drinks seller Red Bull. Branded entertainment takes the notion of brands as publishers a step further; turning brands into producers of entertainment content.

Understanding Brand Marketing

It can be said that branded entertainment has arisen as a reaction of marketers to the fierce competition between brands, as well as to the increasingly fragmented attention that consumers have developed because of the multitude of ads with which they are bombarded on a daily basis, online, in print, on the TV, on the radio, and on the street. Brands that engage in branded entertainment try to stand out from their competitors, offering content that engages customers by grabbing their attention, keeping them hooked, and making them want more.

Branded entertainment resembles content marketing in that it usually doesn’t try to sell products directly, although it refers to them a lot and even integrates them as essential parts of the story/plots it develops. Furthermore, it is usually targeted at consumers who have chosen a certain lifestyle promote by the brand’s mission.

Brand Marketing Takes Marketing to a Different Level

You are probably used to seeing brands sponsor sporting competitions, film releases, art galleries, and other social events in order to promote their logo to an audience interested in their product. With branded entertainment, brands not just ‘present’ entertainment, but take an active role in its creation.

Branded entertainment is more personal, more engaging, and more effective than advertisements and other marketing techniques, and more exciting that traditional content marketing. It transforms a brand from a sponsor into a creator of fun and engaging content. At the same time, it delivers a richer experience than other forms of marketing while requiring unprecedented levels of intentionality and commitment on behalf of consumers.

Embracing Branded Marketing

Branded marketing isn’t just for huge brands like Lego, Dior, or Red Bull. When content marketing began its rise to power, there were those who thought that it would be effective only for large businesses who had the financial resources to invest in content production. Today, empowered by social media sites and blogs, everyone does content marketing, from Cola to the small local car repair service.

While it may appear too costly for small brands, branded marketing is ultimately scalable – a business that cannot afford to hire film stars and create a short series can engage in branded marketing in different ways, such as publishing an online magazine, creating an in-house audio show, or simply being creative about it and finding a compelling format and using it to create an engaging storyline that can grab and hold people’s attention.

From Content Marketing to Branded Entertainment

Your brand, too, can embrace branded entertainment and use it as a highly effective marketing tool to strengthen your brand culture and make your company stand out. It is important to understand, however, that branded entertainment naturally follows in the footsteps of content marketing, and that to get it right you must first embrace the latter, if you haven’t done so already.

If you do embrace content marketing and branded entertainment, your brand will become not just a publisher, but also an entertainer. It will not create ads but content, and thus differentiate itself from the marketing noise in your industry. It would not be an exaggeration to say that branded marketing, as a creative and engaging way to promote brands and products, may become in the near future a key strategy for all companies that want to establish a stronger connection with their customers.

The date is set. The invitations need to go out in the next couple of days. The theme is decided and the decorations are waiting for you at the party supply store… Oh yeah, why don’t we have an entertainer for the kids this year.

Cue the screeching brake noise…now.

If you’re at this point in the process the pickin’s are gonna be slim in the entertainer department. You need to back the planning truck up about four weeks to make sure that you have time to locate and book quality entertainment. Yes, it is possible to find a quality entertainer last-minute–but don’t expect them to be there just waiting for a phone call. A good entertainer will start seriously booking shows for birthdays about six weeks in advance. Four weeks is still a fairly safe bet, but beyond that the dates get tight.

Most people want to have the party on a Saturday about mid-afternoon. Well, an entertainer only has about eight of those coveted spots in any given month. Once they are taken, you go to late afternoon/early evening or perhaps a Sunday (which is getting more popular nowadays). So Rule #1: Plan ahead at least one month.

As I mentioned earlier, you can still get a good entertainer sort of last-minute, but you have to be more flexible with the party time or date. For instance, if possible, think about a mid-week party. Those times are usually more available, and some entertainers will even give a bit of a discount to fill an otherwise unproductive date.

Once you’ve found a list of potential entertainers. Then what? How do you decide which one to invite into your home?

Rule # 2: Do your research. First, visit the company website if one is listed. A good website should give you fair idea of what this performer is all about. Keep in mind that the flashiest web sites don’t always belong to the best performers. However, a nice site does at least tell you this person is serious about his or her business. Be sure to read all the testimonials, and look for names that you might recognise. If there is video, check that out as well. Look for kids laughing in the video. Don’t worry so much about the show. Most living room-type shows seem a bit sluggish or even campy when viewed on video. If the kids are laughing though, that’s a clear indication that this is a good children’s entertainer.

You might also ask friends about an entertainer? Have they heard of him or her? If so, what have they heard? It should be all positive. Of course, you’ll want to call the entertainer and find out what you can expect to experience if he or she does entertain your child. Think of this as an interview for a job, and you are the employer. Here are a few questions you might ask.

Are you a full-time entertainer? (A part-time entertainer may be just fine, but someone-who makes a living from entertaining will have more experience and may be more reliable because this is a business.)

What do you do? (This is a general question. Don’t expect a blow-by-blow description, but listen to what is said and how it is said. the description should captivate you somewhat. Remember, this person will most likely be talking to or with your child and the other guests for quite a while.)

How long have you been doing this? (That’s an important one. The longer someone does a job, the better that person gets at performing it. Nowhere is that more evident than as an entertainer. )

Are you insured? (Accidents happen. You don’t want to be on the hook for the glass of purple water your entertainer spills across your new white carpet.)

Do you have any references? (They may already have testimonials listed on their website. But if you can get a recent reference to actually talk with, that’s a plus. This may not be available — would you want to be the person getting calls in the future from folks?)

In addition to these questions, note how many questions your potential entertainer asks you. Expect to be asked about the location of the party, the date, time, age of the children and what you are expecting. A good entertainer will want to know what environment he is getting into. He’s already planning for the event with every question. Conversely, if you get off the phone and realize that you did most of the talking — well, go back to your list and try another number.

Rule #3: Decide what type of entertainer will fit the theme. There are a host of themes depending upon the age of the children. Your options at this point depend upon the interests of the birthday child. Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues, spys, magic, princess…the list goes on. Once this is decided, you might go to the internet and just search a few key words for your area regarding the theme you’ve chosen. For instance, if you’ve chosen Harry Potter as a theme, and you lived in Milwaukee, you might go to the internet and search. That should bring up a page with several choices. This might not be as clear with a specific theme like Blues Clues, but you might find a list of costumed characters that can visit your home.

Some may still wish to let their finger do the walking and find someone who advertises in the Yellow pages. Keep in mind that the more savvy entertainers are fleeing the yellow pages in droves. The ads are expensive and most performers are finding the internet a better choice. So your choice will be limited in the actual printed book.

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