As a whole, entertainment marketing has a lot in common with both general marketing and public relations. They’re all designed to fulfill customer needs (like marketing) and to create mutually beneficial relationships between a brand and its audiences (like PR). No matter the form, though, entertainment marketing is not advertising, as it is more subtle in execution and more expansive in content.
Advertising is a subset of marketing, one that includes only paid placements, over which the brand has complete control. Ads broadcast one-way messages to audiences typically already aware of the product or service in question. They can be targeted, of course, but often in ways that seem awkward or creepy.
In contrast, entertainment marketing will go deeper and focus on understanding and meeting audience needs as seamlessly as possible, through multiple possible strategies. For example, the marketers behind a campaign might research the target demographic for a certain car and discern the types of media (e.g., blockbuster action films) its members enjoy in their leisure time — just as the Frontiers in Psychology researchers discussed.
This type of process led to this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it product placement of an Audi hood ornament (nearly lost in the glare) in “Iron Man 2”:
This is not an “ad” per se, since it’s more shared than paid media (if we’re going by the popular PESO model used in PR practice) and is not the main focus of the show. Indeed, entertainment marketing won’t usually incorporate a direct paid component, and will instead leverage a combination of these earned, shared and owned channels to reach its audiences.
The “Iron Man 2” screengrab is an example of one of the most popular forms of entertainment marketing, namely product placement (one could argue that the repeated mention of the film’s title in this post is itself a subtle form of such placement, too!). A Hollywood Branded Inc. industry survey found that more than half of brands had explored product placement, more than any other strategy.
Let’s look at how product placement and the other major entertainment marketing strategies work, along with some real-world examples of each one.