To BE or not to BE?

In this guest post, Greg Logan wonders if branded entertainment (BE) is the savior or the devil.

BE is kinda like a shiny new car. Some can’t wait to get in and take it for a run. Some turn their noses up at it, thinking it will destroy the environment. And most people just don’t know how to drive it.

Broadcasters, brands and production companies are all happily jumping in together. But some are worried that TV (and to some extent the internet) is becoming one big long ad with little differentiation between the breaks and the content.

Of course we will always have the good old ad-free ABC. But the other networks are called commercial channels for a reason. But these days they have to be careful to balance commerciality with credibility.

Nobody can blame the networks for wanting to make a buck and lowering production costs. But it can go too far, and you start to lose a viewer’s trust. But it’s not just the media who have to take responsibility here. A bright future in BE relies on the brands making
sure they regulate themselves. They have to remember it’s called branded entertainment, not branded placement.

BE cannot be another way to do an ad.

Hopefully brands understand that consumers are also viewers. Sophisticated ones. They have more choice than ever before and they’ll quickly leave you if you make them sit through a thirty-minute ad.

To me, the answer lies in the difference between advertising and storytelling. Brands that are entering BE need to stop thinking of themselves as advertisers and start thinking of themselves as producers.

Brands can be great storytellers. Brands can be entertaining. For years we’ve had years of programs such World’s Funniest Commercials. Millions of people every day search and share brands such as Old Spice, Volkswagen, Red Bull and Uniqlo just for their
entertainment value.

Look at James Bond. He has been the world’s most successful BE vehicles, and audiences love seeing brands play a part in the action.

History has proven that brands can borrow the equity created through the magic of entertainment; today, brands can actually create that magic themselves.

By 2015, the worldwide entertainment industry is projected to be worth $1.8 trillion. Now’s the time for brands to change the way in which they communicate and engage with consumers and audiences, but by doing so they have the opportunity to create new revenue streams- becoming media owners and publishers.

By creating entertainment authentic to brand ideals and rooted in the logic that drives all elements of the marketing mix, brands can employ the magic of entertainment effectively and profitably.

How can they measure the success? One of the world’s best BE companies, OgilvyEntertainment in the US, has created a new measurement standard, the Ogilvy Branded Entertainment Model (BEAM) so BE can be assessed and measured against a consistent model. It gives the 39% of US companies, who will spend more on
branded content this year, proof of what they already believe- that branded content works.

In the end, people want good entertainment, branded or not. Force- fit brands into good entertainment and it will leave a bad taste in the mouth. It’s not good for the brand, the program or the channel. But good entertainment, where brands increase the entertainment or play a meaningful role, make everyone happy – including the

Greg Logan is the executive producer at Hatch


  1. Jim Shomos
    27 Aug 12
    10:42 am

  2. It will be interesting to see if marketers can let go of the natural tendency to create “brand in your face content” and learn the value of “brand-caressed content”… with less reliance on metrics… trust the power of emotional connection that can come from story and character.

  3. Katy Eng
    27 Aug 12
    3:53 pm

  4. I would say neither savior nor devil… just a reality! With digital pre-roll ads you can skip right over (after 5 seconds, of course!) and recorded TV you can fast forward through, brands have no choice but to integrate themselves within content. It’s not a matter of “Should we” or “Shouldn’t we” but “How do we?” Brands need to remember that by jumping into the branded entertainment space, they still have options. Co-branded interstitials, in-show integrations, bespoke content… there are many different types of BE that accommodate varied levels of investment and creative control. It’s not one-size fits all and you don’t have to dive in head first… but go ahead and dip a toe.

  5. Rushdie
    27 Aug 12
    4:13 pm

  6. Imagine if your ads got taken off TV if they didn’t entertain viewers. There’d be the ‘man versus world’ KFC spot and nothing else on. That’ s the difference between the entertainment and advertising businesses. Anyone who promises to create an entertainment platform for a brand isn’t peddling snake oil, but they are selling a l-o-n-g shot.

  7. Doug
    27 Aug 12
    5:09 pm

  8. this is not new… “soap” operas in the 50s were BE. Companies like Brand New Media have been around for years… & Georgie Summerhayes has done some great BE in her career. But any BE will die if it not what someone wants to watch… There is some great BE around, and there is blatant advertising.

  9. jumpshot
    28 Aug 12
    4:35 pm

  10. Whilst ‘brand caressed’ makes me feel a bit funny 😉 I do agree with Jim that the way forward in this space is to have a little faith, keep the metrics at arm’s length and do what feels right for your audiences.

    After many years creating content at Red Bull, I can safely say that this was our approach (backed by serious insight into our brand and audiences) and it works.

    Thanks for the article Greg!


  11. Lauren
    28 Aug 12
    11:38 pm

  12. Glad you enjoyed our white paper “Making magic, using logic: The Ogilvy Branded Entertainment Assessment Model”. Check it out on SlideShare here: And tell us what you think on Twitter @OgilvyEnt.

  13. Frank Gordela
    30 Aug 12
    3:39 am

  14. Kick — Branded Entertainment series called “Done In 60 Seconds” about car stories:


  15. Rushdie
    6 Sep 12
    5:55 pm

  16. Just viewed the Ogilvy Branded Entertainment model slide show. I haven’t read that much complete and utter bullshit in some time. Smoke and mirrors to make clients feel reassured their money isn’t being pissed away.

  17. Jim Shomos
    7 Sep 12
    10:00 am

  18. Wonderful irony that someone who attacks something as “smoke and mirrors” chooses to hide behind a nickname…I guess you got what you wanted Rushdie… a response