Three Strategies That CPG Marketers Can Learn From the World of Entertainment

Entertainment marketers are masters at grabbing an audience’s attention in a split second with just one image, clip, or tweet. They do this by deftly focusing their marketing on three essential strategies: telling stories, inspiring emotion, and taking risks. Here’s how CPG brands can emulate that strategy:

 

1. TELLING STORIES | Entertainment brands wrote the book on telling stories. They do it all the time. But CPG brands can take a page from this classic entertainment strategy to bring their brands to life in memorable ways. The author of the mega-successful Harry Potter franchise was able to build a billion-dollar brand that continues to grow and engage new audiences. How? By telling consistent stories.

J.K Rowling created a multidimensional landscape that enables the brand to expand its loyal audience over time. Harry’s world has certain rules and truths that audiences instantly recognize. By staying true to those rules, the story can be replayed over and over again in different ways without losing its believability or diluting the brand. That strategy can be applied to CPG brands as well.

Walk into any Lego store, and you’ll see what I mean. Lego is all about exploration and its stores allow that to happen in a fun, yet educational way—”inspiring and developing the builders of tomorrow.” Rather than simply viewing the Lego brand as plastic construction toys, the company has been telling a story for decades about the way children play and learn. That story supports the continuing growth of the brand into movies, games, competitions, and even amusement parks.

Another example, Tesla has created a paradigm shift in the American car industry because it tells a familiar story in a new way. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk saw a way to transform the car industry, just like the industry’s founder Henry Ford did. Tesla has taken electric technology into the premium market by offering gorgeous style, high-performance, and luxury all wrapped around renewable energy that helps the environment.

The company is telling an optimistic story about the future. Consumers no longer have to settle for a boring car; they can have luxury and be environmentally friendly at the same time. Moreover, Elon Musk envisions eventually offering electric cars that will be affordable to the average consumer.

 

2. INSPIRING EMOTION | Masters at surprise and suspense, entertainment brands use everything in their arsenal to grab attention. Teasers, trailers, posters, and social media posts focus on grabbing attention and driving an emotional reaction. Entertainment marketers know how to make feelings—whether horror, humor, inspiration, or romance—memorable.

Pom Wonderful has used this effective strategy with its “Crazy Healthy” positioning brought to life in advertising with dragons, samurai, and archers brilliantly created using CGI pomegranate juice. Just as entertainment marketers use shock value to grab attention, POM’s hyper-reality helps the company stand out from competitors by inspiring emotions that make the brand impossible to forget.

The energy drink Red Bull uses a different but equally effective approach. It makes a connection to the extreme sports it sponsors and promotes (rally cross, downhill mountain bike racing, air races, sky diving, etc.) in an entertaining way. The Red Bull “Gives You Wings” slogan invites consumers to take action, fulfill their biggest dreams, and live up to their aspirations. Viral videos depicting athleticism and fearlessness mirror the rush consumers want from the product, capturing attention and encouraging everyone to excel.

 

3. PUSHING INTO NEW TERRITORY | Entertainment brands thrive on being the hippest, coolest, thing around—taking risks and doing things no one has ever done. For a CPG brand, that territory may seem like a dangerous place to go, but the rewards can far outweigh the risks. If you want to get consumers excited and talking about your brand, put a new twist on it.

Eyeglass brand Warby Parker totally shook up the industry when it saw a way to create an e-commerce business with a personal, customized experience at an affordable price. Customers shop online but have the added convenience of trying eyeglasses on in the comfort or their homes. Taking advantage of a five-pairs/five-days free home trial, customers can see exactly what they’re getting.

GQ magazine dubbed the company “the Netflix of eyewear.” Its success is related to how it built its brand story around a personal and customized experience, and it is further supported by the philanthropic part of its story. The company donates one pair of glasses for every one sold to people who can’t afford glasses.

You may remember Old Spice, Procter & Gamble’s line of men’s grooming products, as that dusty brand on your dad’s shelf, but its recent efforts to tell its story in an off-beat way have made the company relevant to a new generation of young men. And the company did that by taking calculated risks with its advertising. Old Spice knew it hit the jackpot when the campaign featuring Isaiah Mustafa (“the man your man could smell like”) went viral, and the company hasn’t looked back. Its self-deprecating style is a tongue-in-cheek take on masculinity that works. Why? Because the company understands what moves its audience. It’s not about being conventional; it’s about taking risks and being a man, man.

 

Successful entertainment brands know how to break through the noise of competition. CPG marketers who face the same challenges can build successful brands by focusing on these three entertainment strategies. First, romance your consumers with messages and design elements that tell a consistent brand story, then differentiate your brand by taking courageous risks, and finally, make your brand unforgettable by forging strong emotional connections.

November 7, 2016
Margo Chase

founder
executive creative director

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