Why Brands Should Keep a Watchful Eye on the Entertainment Industry
Celebrities have always had power. Traditionally, their power was solely linked to how much cash they generated for their studio. Nowadays, celebrities can offer the reach and engagement of their unique fandoms through their social presence. Thanks to digital marketers, their power can be tracked and harnessed. Let’s take a look at the cyclical nature of how entertainment brands build and influence audiences.
Movie stars get paid to make a project, but they are also contracted to promote it. If they excel at that part of the job, they build a following that they get paid even more to influence. Stars use the power of their projects to grow their personal audience, which gives them the ability to influence that audience down the line. The ones that excel have the power to align their side gigs to their personal interests.
Here’s a recent example: Tiffany Haddish, the breakout star of Girl’s Trip, told a story about a Groupon swamp tour adventure on Jimmy Kimmel Live! After the clip went viral, she became Groupon’s new spokesperson. In short, Tiffany experienced and then prepared a hilarious story to promote her movie. That clip became a 7-minute long commercial for Groupon, Girls Trip, Jimmy Kimmel Live and Tiffany Haddish herself.
On the flip side, the personal lives of celebrities are now tied to the corporate images of their endorsements. Consider the negative press that Logan Paul brought to YouTube or that H&M brought to The Weeknd or that Kendall and Pepsi brought to each other. Other big brand names are forever linked: Charlize Theron and Dior. Michael Jordan and Hanes. Selena Gomez and Coach. Taylor Swift and Fedex….okay yes, that’s one of the weirder pairings. Transcendent stars have and tie their personal brand to their corporate brand: Elon Musk and SpaceX/Tesla. Rihanna Fenty and Fenty. Beyonce Knowles and Beyonce.
We have identified the value of the way a cyclical relationship can work in the entertainment industry, but what is the currency? Critical acclaim is only a piece of the puzzle since Adam Sandler and Transformers both continue to make movies despite ratings. Big budgets can move the needle a bit, but if the sentiment is primarily negative, it can lead to big box office failure (e.g., King Arthur, The Mummy and Ghost in the Shell – just to name a few from 2017).
On the other hand, if the conversation starts to grow, it can turn small movies into big-time contenders. Reach, either by follower count or volume of conversation, has now become the biggest bargaining chip. And nothing gets people talking and searching more than the entertainment industry. The most striking example of this happening in 2017 is Get Out, which rode its $4.5mil budget into a $254mil box office and 4 Oscar Nominations. This movie didn’t have enough of a budget to market itself, so Twitter took it upon itself to do the heavy lifting.
Looking at ‘Best Of’ lists from last year can help us quantify the entertainment movers and shakers of last year. Out of 2017’s ‘Top 50’ articles from Wikipedia, ‘entertainment’ made up 64% of searches during the year. Of those, Netflix was responsible for 6 line items, which demonstrates its power as a platform. Half of Netflix’s line items were searches around the British Monarchy, timed with the release of The Crown Season 2. And the new wave of its stardom continues with Meghan Markle topping the Wikipedia list although neither Prince Harry nor Suits (the TV show in which she stars) made the list.
Some of the biggest movies of the year trended on Twitter but were not researched on Wikipedia (Beauty and the Beast, Get Out, Logan). Some of the most controversial within the industry were neither talked about nor researched (Ghost in the Shell and Death Note). 13 Reasons Why was both talked about and Wikipedia’d due to its controversial subject.
For someone to show up on any of these lists is a testament to the power of word of mouth. Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, of course) was the only person to show up on all three Top Lists of 2017 (TV Show mentions: Saturday Night Live host duties). Because of that, we can extrapolate that Gal Gadot was one of the most powerful entertainment figures of 2017 – of course regarding money but also in terms of volume of conversation.
The entertainment industry is obviously huge and holds massive opportunity for brands to quickly align themselves with cultural conversations, trendsetters and entertainment news. Here are a few ways your brand can keep an eye out for these types of opportunities:
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