The State of Branded Entertainment: 25+ Experts Weigh In

The State of Branded Entertainment: 25+
Cheyne Gateley/Variety Intelligence Platform

This VIP special report is an in-depth exploration covering how the worlds of content and marketing come together as branded entertainment, and aims to bring together insights and tips from more than 25 experts across the branded content space, which constitutes creative agencies, talent agencies, content studios, production companies, publishers, creatives, and of course the brands themselves.

The 2018 film “Uncle Drew” may have performed in the shadow of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s” box office dominance, but on its own it exhibits the far reach and potential of marketing campaigns when the stars align and the advertisement becomes content in its own right. Derived from a branded web series made to promote Pepsi Max in 2012, “Uncle Drew” earned over $15 million domestically in its opening weekend and $42 million overall in the U.S. and Canada.

In the years since the 1996 film “Space Jam” originated from Nike shoe commercials, branded entertainment has become far more commonplace for the viewing public and is considered an essential marketing strategy by brands of all sorts. Companies have found themselves having to devise new ways to promote products as innovative platforms capture the willing attention of global audiences, eager to interface their own social lives with brand campaigns.

Through series, formats, digital shorts, articles and even feature films, the success of branded content depends on the notion that the public will come for entertainment and stay long enough for effective marketing to work its magic and build trust with the consumer, to the point where the content’s ad-driven origin loses relevance and gains legitimacy the same way actors and filmmakers do with fans.

“Consumers these days no longer want to hear about a brand’s product or service,” says Michal Shapira, who is SVP and head of partnerships and news content for WarnerMedia’s Courageous Studios. “We really feel that [branded entertainment] triggers something in a consumer that has long-lasting effects and can go much, much further than just a traditional ad.”

Read on to learn about:


How professionals behind branded content define the sector and all of the different factors comprising it, on top of what they must consider to produce effective content that accomplishes their marketing goals


The challenges enveloping branded content and its creation, as well as the difficulties in defining what is and isn't content in the grand scheme of marketing as entertainment


The lengths branded entertainment professionals go in order to make consumers feel comfortable across a variety of platforms, and what the best channels are for specific content mediums and initiatives