Many have tried; few have succeeded. How do you create advertainment online?
I don't know how you're feeling, but I'm so overloaded my needle is edging into the red zone. Perhaps it's exhaustion, due to my hoop-jumping to clear a couple of days for Thanksgiving. Or maybe it's from inhaling mass quantities of vegetables I normally don't eat. Then again, it might be because I wasn't in front of my laptop 24/7 for a few days. While I was away, it seemed as if everywhere I looked I was seeing message after message, promotion after promotion after promotion, and movie trailer after movie trailer.
It made me think about advertising versus entertainment. The word entertainment has been so severely misused by agencies when referring to offline advertising. Nonetheless, it crept into the world of online advertising a few years back. And guess what? It's still being misused.
When does advertising become entertainment? In my quest for a proper grasp of this, I stumbled across a great book: "The Entertainment Marketing Revolution" by Al Lieberman. (OK, I'll admit it, I haven't finished it because I went to the movies.) The book provides a realistic primer on what Lieberman calls the four Cs. Yes, I know, we marketers are used to the good ole four Ps... but there's a different consonant in town, folks. The structure of the whole entertainment industry can be described the following way:
All roads lead back to content. Think about it, how many times have you gone to a site and clicked off because the content was stale or cluttered?
It's easy to think of television ads I'd categorize as entertainment: The Bud "Whassup" campaign, just about anything VW-related, and many more. I think it's safe to assume you'll agree with me when I say we are challenged, if not debilitated, as online advertisers when we try to create entertainment. Let's face i, manipulating pixels to elicit emotion can be an uphill battle.
The only good online example that comes to mind is BMWFilms.com. It's one of those "Man, I wish we had done that" ideas. The racing cars with their sleek designs, the attractive characters backlit and smoking, the smooth streaming audio... Wow, put them all together and they make a desktop much more than a desktop.
So I'll leave you with this, dear readers. Please help me answer the (modified) question: When does online advertising become entertainment? Email me.
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Seana Mulcahy is vice president, director of interactive media at Mullen (an IPG company). She's been creating online brands since before the first banner was sold. Her expertise includes online and traditional media planning and buying, e-mail marketing, viral marketing, click-stream analysis, customer tracking, promotions, search engine optimization and launching brands online. Prior to Mullen, Seana was vice president of media services at Carat Interactive. She's built online media services divisions for three companies and has worked with clients spanning financial, telecom, high-tech, healthcare and retail. Not surprisingly, she has taught, lectured and written about the industry for numerous trade associations and publications.
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