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How Entertainment Brands are winning hearts and minds

5 March, 2024
How Entertainment Brands are winning hearts and minds | News | Pause Awards
George Hedon, founder and CEO, Pause Fest & Awards
George Hedon
5 March, 2024
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In the ever-evolving landscape of brand marketing, a new breed of trailblazers is emerging, redefining engagement through the art of entertainment.

These mavericks, known as Entertainment Brands, are not just selling products; they are creating immersive experiences, building compelling narratives, and transforming their brand presence into something akin to cultural phenomena. Among these pioneers, Liquid Death, Duolingo, and Vacation (and our very own Who Gives A Crap) stand out, each employing unique strategies to etch their mark on the hearts and minds of consumers.

Their success underlines a pivotal shift in consumer engagement: in a world cluttered with advertisements, the brands that entertain, engage, and evoke emotion are the ones that stand out. The lesson here is clear: to captivate the modern consumer, brands must not only sell a product but also tell a story that resonates, entertains, and endures.

The Rise of Entertainment Brands: Blurring Lines Between Business and Culture

Entertainment Brands are not mere businesses; they are cultural phenomena that intertwine seamlessly with the fabric of society. By injecting entertainment into the core of their identity, these brands do more than just sell products or services; they create memorable experiences that resonate deeply with consumers, embedding themselves in people’s hearts and minds.

The Secret Sauce: Creativity, Innovation, and Entertainment

What sets these Entertainment Brands apart is their relentless pursuit of creativity and innovation, wrapped in the engaging cloak of entertainment. This trinity is their beacon, guiding them to not only compete but also to thrive in a landscape overshadowed by industry titans.

Entertainment Brands
8 entertainer types from 'Entertain or Die' by Small World

The ‘8 Entertainers’: Archetypes of Success

Our journey into the world of Entertainment Brands revealed eight distinct archetypes, each with their unique strategy and tactics but united by a common understanding: in the battleground of brands, it’s entertain or perish. These ‘8 Entertainers’ are the vanguards of this new era, demonstrating that when it comes to capturing attention and growing a share of voice, the blend of mixed earned media—what we term as Entertainment Media—is paramount.

“We created the Entertainment Index™, which ranks all of the brands in the report, as well as their category competitors, with a blended score of owned and earned metrics across social, PR and search. Most importantly, it factors out paid spend to get a totally earned picture – a pure entertainment factor.”

Dan Salkey, Founder and Strategy Partner at °Small World for WARC.

Liquid Death: A Story of Creative Ingenuity

Liquid Death has turned the mundane act of drinking water into an epic saga. With a marketing strategy that mirrors a TV show’s writers’ room, they have crafted a brand persona so vivid that it begs the question: could this be a skit on “Saturday Night Live?” This approach has not only carved a niche for Liquid Death in the beverage industry but has also redefined how a product can become a character in its own narrative, engaging consumers through a blend of creativity and cultural commentary​​.

Duolingo: The Mascot That Captured the World

Duolingo, with its iconic green owl Duo, has turned language learning into an entertainment spectacle. This brand has leveraged its mascot to become a living, breathing character that interacts with users in humorous and sometimes absurd ways, especially on TikTok. By transforming Duo from a mere symbol into a relatable personality, Duolingo has supercharged its virality, making language learning not just educational but thoroughly entertaining​​.

Vacation: Nostalgia as a Brand Identity

Vacation sunscreen has taken a different route, adopting an entire era as its brand identity. With roots in an 80s nostalgia project called Poolside FM, Vacation has crafted a brand world reminiscent of “The Office” meets Jimmy Buffet. Their approach goes beyond traditional advertising, engaging consumers with vintage-style campaigns and product innovations that echo the whimsicality of a Willy Wonka creation. This strategy has not only set Vacation apart in the sunscreen market but has also turned sunscreen application into a fun, nostalgic experience​​.

Entertainment Media: The Game-Changer

The mastery of Entertainment Media is what empowers these brands to hold their ground against the Goliaths of the industry. By leveraging a mix of traditional and digital platforms, they craft narratives that transcend mere advertising, becoming a part of the cultural conversation.

The New Paradigm of Brand Success

The emergence of Entertainment Brands marks a pivotal shift in the business landscape. As they blur the lines between commerce and culture, these brands offer a blueprint for success that is as effective as it is captivating. In the end, the message is clear: to thrive in the era of big brands, embracing the art of entertainment is not just an option; it’s a necessity​​.

In this dynamic environment, the question for up-and-coming brands and established players alike is not whether to entertain but how to weave entertainment into the very DNA of their brand. The journey of the ‘8 Entertainers’ offers valuable insights and inspiration for any brand aspiring to make a lasting impact in the hearts and minds of its audience.

I’f you’d like to read the full report, please click here to download.


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