Partnering with a major entertainment property has always been a popular option for brands, but in this age of content creation and storytelling, only the best and most integrated campaigns will deliver the engagement and reach you are looking for. There is no room for lazy alliances or simple badging exercises – you need to go well beyond the on-pack slap with a little ATL tickle.
For years brands would partner with a film, game or music artist and simply hope that mere association would stand out and create cut through – in fact, I still see partnerships like this in the marketplace because property owners and brands cling to traditional promotional models and techniques.
However, the lines between licensing and partnerships, and endorsement and association, are blurring. With the media landscape at its most exciting, now is the time for dynamic and innovative brands to capitalise by identifying the right entertainment property and using it effectively.
If you’re going to borrow (promotional partnership) or buy (via licensing) the creative assets and value of an entertainment property, then be damn sure you squeeze every last ounce of value out of it. If it includes high-profile talent or beloved animated characters, then be sure to negotiate those assets as part of your creative suite. But there’s more to it than just using the talent. You can tap into years of heritage or acquire brand attributes instantly through the association.
Arguably, the best alliances are the ones that have both. Heineken’s Skyfall campaign paid homage to (and borrowed heavily from) 50 years of Bond movie heritage, while bookending the TVC with Daniel Craig himself.
If this isn’t an option, then what can you use to add value to your campaign instead? When clothing brand OnePiece partnered with Breaking Bad they weren’t able to use any on-screen talent, but instead produced a limited edition range of onesies in the style of the yellow chemical hazard suits worn in the show. They generated huge media coverage and additional retail displays.
Both campaigns were incredibly effective in using the ‘borrowed’ intellectual property from their chosen entertainment brand to drive engagement, awareness and ultimately sales. They took key assets and themes from the property and then let the consumer join the dots and decide whether they liked the association. Fundamentally, they entertained the consumers with their stand-alone campaigns – they didn’t rely on the entertainment property to do all the heavy lifting, that alliance was simply the seed of a strong campaign.
Evian’s recent partnership with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is another great example of how a brand took a property and then created a campaign to entertain and engage consumers in its own right.
Evian made Spider-Man the guest star of their Baby & Me campaign that had originally launched the year before. Spider-Man and the ‘baby’ version of the superhero starred in the 90” TVC, on-pack, POS and BTL communications, but it was the TVC that demonstrated just how the right integration can deliver consumer cut-through. The film became the most shared YouTube advert during its launch week and had amassed more than 20m views before the film had even been released. For that period, Evian’s short Spider-Man story was the only new and entertaining Spider-Man content available to consumers.
The examples I’ve listed are all tactical partnerships with new releases, but the same rules apply if you were considering licensing or working with a more evergreen entertainment property, such as a long-running stage show or a specific talent like a music artist. You need to fully integrate the property and its DNA into your campaign if you want to get the most out of your deal.
They have invested millions into their own brand and they are loved by the consumers for making them laugh, cry, dance, fall in love and everything in between. To unlock this value and reap the real rewards, you’ll need to create a campaign that does just that too.
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