In the history of brand integration, there are a few “gold standard” integrations that come to mind when talking to industry professionals.
One of the first significant integrations may be Reese’s Pieces integration in Steven Spielberg’s classic E.T. Other iconic brand and entertainment hookups include Aston Martin and Heineken with James Bond, Mini in The Italian Job. FedEx and Wilson in Castaway, Ray-Ban in Risky Business and Nike in What Women Want.
The list is long and distinguished and, today, one can argue that brand integration is more critical than ever as consumer behaviors and consumption habits have changed — especially in television as streaming on the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Apple, Facebook and others continue to gain momentum.
“We did over 5,000 [integrations] this year, [which is] about 14 a day and one that stands out is Stranger Things,” says Greg Isaacs, chief product and marketing officer at Branded Entertainment Network (BEN).
Indeed, when discussing the show, a conversation around Kellogg’s Eggo brand is sure to be among the first mentioned.
“I thought that was such a pivotal part of Eleven's storyline with her finding something of comfort,” says prop master Scott Bauer, a 20-year Hollywood veteran. “I just thought was a brilliant piece of storytelling and also product integration.”
With the continued momentum of content creation (there was $17bn disclosed in new content creation across Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, Apple, and Facebook), especially among platforms that don’t necessarily deal in traditional advertising, there are ample opportunities for brands to get on the bandwagon relatively early.
“You can watch a 30-minute episode, and there can probably be 20 brands in there,” says Isaacs. “We did an analysis where only about 1.5-2% of arguable impressions are being utilized today for integration. That leaves 98% available.”
With an ever-expanding playing field and content progressing at a staggering rate, in Isaac’s mind, this could very well become another “golden moment” for the combined power of brands and entertainment.
“Brands historically used to think about integration as a ‘nice to have’ or a one-off,” says Isaacs. “Today, they’re viewing them as campaigns, which means they’re in for the longer haul. I think that 2018 is a year that brand integration will become a necessity.”
To read the full version of this feature, purchase a copy of The Drum’s Future of TV issue, created ahead of an Upfronts event being held on the topic on 8 May in New York.