Marketing Briefing: Madison Avenue, Hollywood get closer, with marketers more ‘open to bigger investments’ in entertainment

This Marketing Briefing covers the latest in marketing for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

Luxury behemoth LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) made headlines recently with the announcement of a new venture, 22 Montaigne Entertainment, a new platform in partnership with Superconnector Studios that will use movies and TV to market the company’s 75 brands. The move is the latest from a major marketer looking to deepen the ties between Madison Avenue and Hollywood, and follows the success of recent brand and entertainment efforts from the likes of Mattel, Nike and Nintendo, among others.

Marketers are all too aware of changing consumption habits and the fragmentation that’s come with those changes, making it all the more difficult to reach people through traditional forms of advertising. With that being the case, marketers are more interested now in finding ways to be part of culture and part of the entertainment that people actively seek out. There were more CMO-level executives at the Sundance Film Festival this year, for example. And at that same festival, a documentary funded by Nike was then picked up by Netflix. While Nike is a first-mover in this scenario, there’s a sense that other brands will start taking bigger swings with entertainment properties too.

“There’s more momentum to people exploring,” David Anderson, co-head of UTA’s entertainment marketing team, said when asked about marketers’ moods regarding partnering with Hollywood. “Some of the brands, the people putting $100,000 in and funding some development, I’ve started to hear those companies as they’ve gotten more comfortable over the past few years say they’re open to bigger investments.”

Those marketers who are interested in deepening this connection with entertainment are often asking about how they can engage with audiences, explained Justin Booth-Clibborn and Neysa Horsburgh, executive producers at brand content studio And Furthermore, which was officially formed earlier this year. “What they’ve said is that they’re looking to go from having a transactional relationship with their consumers to having a more of an emotional relationship with them,” said Booth-Clibborn, adding that entertainment is a way to help them do that.

As more marketers look for more ways to connect their brands with Hollywood, there are different phases that typically occur in the process. Often, marketers will start by asking entertainment firms for help with education to understand the space. From there, should marketers want to pursue getting their brands into entertainment, there are questions about how to reimagine marketing organizations to actually work with Hollywood. Sometimes that may involve hiring an “internal advocate,” explained Anderson, like Unilever’s global head of entertainment and culture marketing Kelly Mullen, for example, but each organization is different. After that, brands will typically start to invest and move further into the entertainment space.

“You have to figure out how you are going to bring together the right expertise to make sure that those dollars are being invested in with the same kind of rigor and diligence that you would with any other marketing spend that you would have,” said Anderson, noting that there are times when brands have previously waded into entertainment without having a roadmap for what to do with the long-form entertainment they create and how that can be difficult for marketers.

“Big iconic brands may lean in to this [like] Coca-Cola or Redbull [the question is] is it an advertising play or a revenue play?” Jennifer Kohl, chief media officer at VML, said in an email. “I think the big thing will be to have entertainment professionals involved who have a business model vision that can make money (whether that is in distribution or clear impact on sales).”

While marketers’ entertainment-focused interest is in full swing again from marketers, brands have made long-form entertainment and worked with Hollywood many times over. There’s a sense from entertainment and advertising professionals that the market ebbs and flows when it comes to pairing Hollywood and Madison Avenue and that currently there’s more interest than there has been at other times. With that said, there’s also a belief that current market conditions for both marketers and entertainers will likely make this wave more long-lasting than previous ones.

“Long before this media fragmentation, the idea and concept of using entertainment as marketing or, in other words, making things people actually want to see is not that novel of an idea,” said Dan Sanborn, president of Wheelhouse Labs and head of marketing at Jimmy Kimmel’s creative lab Kimmelot. “It just so happens that the notion of interruptive marketing through TV has changed. So to me, I think you’re going to see this be talked about more.”

Sanborn added that the dynamic hasn’t just changed for marketers but it’s changed for entertainment professionals as well, with the difficulties of funding making it easier for both sides of the business to have the conversation. “The dynamics have shifted that are probably underscoring an important opportunity for it to happen more and a big part of that is the economics of filmmaking and television and content.”

3 Questions with John Solomon, CMO of wellness company Therabody

Between digital costs and data privacy, marketing ROI is getting harder to prove. How do you drive business results through marketing with those things in mind? 

As someone who’s been a digital marketer — that’s how I’ve come up through marketing in my career — I’ve always had a healthy skepticism that data and digital is gonna solve all marketers’ problems. So I’ve always taken a very more omnichannel approach. Obviously, starting as a DTC brand, performance marketing was always really important. But, for me, it’s all about demand creation and all the different ways we do that. We have moved away from being heavily reliant on pure digital. 

How do you convince the C-Suite to move away from over-reliance on digital tactics?

We have gotten our management team, I’ve gotten our CFO, CEO, they’re comfortable with different metrics, whether it’s going to be looking at awareness studies, search interests, traffic to sites, traffic to stores, how many trials we’ve driven, and obviously conversion and sales. You have to be that omnichannel approach and to be able to not be just reliant on Facebook. When I came in, we were more dependent on those channels because people love to think that every dollar you put in, you’re gonna get this other dollar coming out. But we’ve really changed our model and our metrics so we can understand how we’re both doing that demand creation and then also that demand capture, which drives sales.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing marketers today?

There’s an external challenge and there’s an internal challenge. I’ll start with the external. The external challenge is there are so many touch points now for a brand. We have so many touch points, from a call center to a store to all the digital touch points, emails. It’s very challenging to have consistency of messaging and consistency of creative, especially as you become bigger and bigger, and you become more fragmented and siloed. Then, it’s internal. You have boards, you have C-Suites, you have people that the ROI is becoming so important. Profitability is becoming really important. You really have to get people on board internally with your marketing plans, your approaches, how you’re measuring it. If you’re completely disconnected from that, then it starts to become budget cuts, you’re seen as not effective in driving the business. — Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

As the cord-cutting trend continues to fuel the shift of ad dollars from linear television to connected television, direct-to-consumer brands seem to be unconvinced of the value of CTV, according to a new survey from Tatari data and analytics company, and Nik Sharma, a DTC investor, advisor and founder of Sharma Brands. Per the research, DTC brands want to spend more on TV, but a knowledge gap causes hesitation. Find key details from the report below:

  • 55% of DTC advertisers are not spending on TV at all, and high cost and measuring ROI are what DTC brands think are the two biggest challenges of doing TV advertising.
  • 63% of brands say they will increase spending on TV advertising in the next three to five years.
  • There’s a lack of awareness in how TV stacks up to paid social — 63% of respondents weren’t aware that CPMs for linear TV are often lower than CPMs for paid social. — Kimeko McCoy

Quote of the week

“The real opportunity lies not in trying to replicate what’s lost with cookies but rather in seizing the chance to depart from outdated media practices — cookies are 30 years old this year — and investing in channels and formats better suited to the specific objectives brands aim to achieve.”

— Duncan Smith, U.S. CEO at performance marketing agency Journey Further, said when asked about the effects of the third-party cookie fallout on marketers’ and media buyers’ jobs.

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