In an era of sensory overload where consumers are faced with a barrage of content at any moment, standing out is becoming an increasingly difficult task for brands. But there is a solution to capture the attention of the distracted generation. In my days of television production in Paris, about 15 years ago, we were already exploring the concept of “advertising”. We’ve pitched innovative mini-series ideas to brands like McDonald’s and Club Med.
Although the vision was clear and ahead of its time, the concepts failed to materialize. The evolving priorities and dynamic goals of marketing departments at the time made it difficult to sell the concept of long-term promotions.
But now, with growing consumer skepticism, we’re seeing a backlash against traditional advertising. Today’s marketers are clamoring for new ways to capture hearts, minds and most importantly, attention.
As the lines between content and ads blur, brands riding this wave are rewriting the rules of engagement.
Welcome to the future of brand communications.
What is an “advertisement”?
Advertainment, a portmanteau of advertising and entertainment, is a creative strategy that seamlessly weaves marketing messages into pure entertainment content.
Modern “advertising” subtly incorporates promotional messages into forms of content including video, games, podcasts, virtual reality experiences, and interactive web series.
Instead of interrupting the flow of content with advertising, the brand becomes a storyteller, engaging viewers with content that feels organic, authentic and relevant. The content is the ad.
In an environment where consumers are quick to skip, mute, or block ads, “advertising” offers a tantalizing promise: an audience willingly engaged, emotionally invested, and ultimately more receptive to a brand’s message.
One of the first notable examples of “advertising” was the 8-minute short film for Pirelli, Mission Zerostarring Uma Thurman in 2007 – even has IMDb page for him.
But you don’t need to hire Hollywood stars and invest months in production to create an impactful “advertisement.” At its core, it’s about understanding your audience and crafting a narrative that resonates with them, regardless of budget or star power.
The benefits of “advertising”
The average human attention span is shrinking, with a research from Microsoft suggesting that most adults have shorter attention spans than goldfish.
This general decline in our ability to focus is why apps like TikTok and YouTube shorts have become so popular.
By its very nature, “advertising” can slip seamlessly into these small content slots, making brands not just part of the conversation, but the main action. Another significant advantage is its ability to create a two-way dialogue between brands and consumers.
While traditional ads talk to consumers, “advertising” invites them into the conversation. This interactive element not only helps make the brand more memorable, but can also foster brand loyalty and consumer trust.
Moreover, in an age where authenticity is highly valued, “advertising” provides an opportunity for brands to demonstrate values and ethos in a genuine way.
Rather than brute force a product, brands can share stories that resonate with audience values and aspirations, further deepening the consumer-brand connection.
The marketing power of the blockbuster
Take the recent Barbie movie for example. It is already touted as one of the most successful marketing campaigns of recent years, the most hyped movie of 2023 will show how powerful “advertising” can be.
My own 7-year-old daughter, for example, had almost abandoned her Barbie collection until the movie came out. But the Barbie movie, wrapped in fun but subtly marketing the brand, fired her imagination and shifted her focus away from her other dolls.
But the film’s influence has gone beyond the toys, as the nation seems overcome with its need for branded merch and anything pink.
Collaborations with brands spanning clothing, luggage, makeup and accessories have been wildly successful, not to mention filters and trends making the rounds on social media.
Mattel has essentially created a masterclass in “advertising,” influencing purchase decisions and capturing the attention of an astonishingly wide market.
Navigating the “advertising” revolution
As the advertising landscape evolves, the potential of “advertising” continues to grow.
With the rise of immersive technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), brands have even more opportunities to create unique and memorable “ad” experiences.
As we continue to witness the rapid evolution of media consumption habits, it is imperative for brands and marketers to adapt and innovate.
“Advertising” is not just a passing trend; it’s a force reshaping the entire marketing landscape as we know it. The future belongs to brands that understand and harness its power.
Amaury Treguer is the co-founder of Bread Agency.