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Brand Integrations Are Having More Than a 'Moment.' Here's Why.

The industry is rife with chatter right now about the power of brand and product integrations in the entertainment space. And while this model of advertising is hardly new (it does, in fact, date back a full century), there’s good reason we’re seeing surging interest in the TV and movie integration spaces. 

Changes in viewing habits—occurring before but vastly accelerated in the pandemic—have led to a significant rise in streaming and OTT content consumption. Combined with consumer ad blocking behaviors online and tiered content subscription models that allow viewers to avoid ads altogether, advertisers are rethinking how they continue to remain relevant to and in front of the full breadth of their audiences. TV commercials aren’t going anywhere—not in linear and not in digital streaming channels. But advertisers are increasingly looking to supplement them with more-seamless and impactful brand and product integrations that connect with audiences inside of the content they value most. Plus, when you consider the built-in trust that brands can gain through such partnerships, it's no wonder we’re seeing this surge in interest now.

Let’s take a look at how these kinds of integrations are driving results for advertisers, and the many ways in which they can manifest.

The Power of Brand Integrations

Not every product or brand integration will become a thing of legend, as Reese’s Pieces did when it paid to be the candy of choice for a certain extraterrestrial known as E.T. But even lower-profile integrations have proven time and again to drive memorable moments and bottom-line results for the brands involved. For example, a research study released by Network 10 and conducted by Marketing Scientist Group found that:

Brand integrations today are happening across a variety of movies and TV—linear and streaming, ad-supported and subscription-based. A report by Advertiser Perceptions found that 76 percent of brand integration spending was going to TV networks back in 2017. While that spending is likely shifting alongside evolving TV platforms, it does point to the continued importance of network programming when it comes to balancing investments in the evolving world of TV.

Multiple Paths to Integration

A screen grab of the integration of Lacoste on series 'Queer Eye'

(Image credit: Lacoste on Queer Eye)

Some of the most organic brand integrations happen when a brand or product seamlessly fills a need within the plot of the show itself. (Think Eggo and Stranger Things, which—contrary to what you might think—was not a paid relationship to start.) This is the type of natural fit that you see between Lacoste and its integration with Queer Eye: Clothing choices and shopping destinations are a natural need within the plot of the show itself—a need that Lacoste was able to fill in an authentic way.

Script integration: Jose Cuervo and "The Late Late Show with James Corden"

Of course, other brand integrations are more overt. Consider, for example, the below integration between Jose Cuervo and The Late Late Show with James Corden going into the holidays last year. The integration is anything but subtle, and yet still incredibly on-brand and relevant to the show’s audience.

Screen integration: Dunkin’ and “Upload”

And then, of course, there’s the classic product placement. With these types of integrations, we see a product in the hands of a character, in a way where the brand is prominently displayed but not mentioned. Its inclusion seems quite natural to the action of the show. Dunkin’ (as seen below in a recent integration with Hulu’s Upload) and other drink brands have turned such integrations into an art form over the decades, but we’re seeing a much wider array of advertisers—from car brands to fast food chains to dating apps—getting in on the action as well.

Blended integration: News 12 and Hyundai

Finally, it’s worth noting that not all brand integrations fall into just one of the above buckets. That’s why brand integrations represent creative collaboration at its best. There are no rules. Particularly when you work with a network that thrives on custom partnerships and boasts an exceptionally loyal audience, impactful brand integrations become possible. Consider the collaboration between News 12 and Hyundai, in the popular “Road Trip” segment.

In the era of COVID-19, with cars taking the lead in travel planning, Hyundai partnered smartly when it deeply integrated itself into this award-winning series. These segments garnered plenty of impressions and positive attention, so it’s no surprise that Hyundai is back for another year of collaboration with News 12.

Part of the beauty of product and brand content integrations is the bespoke nature of these arrangements. Working out ways to weave a brand’s story authentically and seamlessly into the content of a TV show or movie is part art and part science (the science being driven by the savvy application of audience data). Ultimately, these integrations require close collaboration between advertisers and their partners to determine the best approach for both sides. It can be a lot of work, but when you get it right, the results speak for themselves.

Dâna Barakat

Dâna Barakat is VP of marketing and communications at New York Interconnect