The Confluence of Marketing and Entertainment

Thought I’d share this great article from Simon Pont, published in

In the article Simon makes a case for using brands as “entry-points into story worlds.”  In effect, he is addressing a very interesting confluence between the entertainment/art community and the marketing community.

As we all know, the business models in the entertainment/art community are rapidly evolving from a tightly controlled hierarchy with regulated channels to a free-for-all where artists are going straight to the audience, and the audience is increasingly fractured and dispersed.

Likewise, marketers are trying to evolve from a disruptive voice to an integrated voice.

Removing the artificial barriers of “product placement” and “branded content” creates a landscape where creators and brands create something greater than the sum of the parts.


Click here to read his article “Where Entertainment Meets Marketing: Lessons from Kingsman, Rolex & James Bond”

Create, Collaborate and Critique: Stages of Development

For the last ten years I’ve been saying: everyone can critique, but few can create.

This was a useful mantra for helping my product development teams get through the mire and pain of “executive feedback” which usually includes tons of opinions but teaspoonfuls of useful input.  Now I’m  in a position of developing content vs products, but my mantra remained the same.

However, I recently realized that I was skipping a step: collaboration.    I think my “skip” was actually a Freudian slip – I knew it existed, and I practiced it, but I sublimated this step into my sub-conscience because it is a grey area that exists between the seed of creation and the pruning of critique and because it is so difficult to define. Here are the stages of development that I am now using:

Creation is a singular activity.  Collaboration is a small group activity. Critique is for the masses.

  • When I say “creation is singular” I don’t mean only individuals can create (although there is a body of thought that supports this position), rather I mean “singular vision”.  Creation is both fragile and dynamic.  Singular vision during the creative stage allows the idea to coalesce, whereas too much friction can lead to an implosion.  Creation occurs best alone or with like-minded people.
  • Collaboration requires high levels of trust and selective diversity.  Some of my best experiences with collaboration have occurred with people who came to a similar conclusion from a different angle.  Our vision was the same, but HOW we reached it was very different, and it is in those differences that we found the opportunities for refinement.  Too much diversity during the early stages is usually more dilutive vs additive (and yes, I made up the word dilutive, but I really like it – so it stays.)
  • Critiquing is the pruning shear, large grit sandpaper, chisel and  hammer.  It shapes the idea into something more useful and fruitful than an idea left in the hothouse of like-mindedness, but if introduced too early in the process it can kill the idea.

My litmus test for “truth” is: does this principle apply to multiple areas?  if so, then it is a principle vs a preference.  Fortunately for me, I see the principles of creation, collaboration and critiquing in both nature (plant a seed – water and fertilize during development – prune when it hits a level of maturity) and family (2 people make the child, a family raises the child, the world shapes the child.  Exposing a child too early to the public forum of criticism may not kill the child – but often times seriously messes them up.)

In transmedia marketing, a key step is the inclusion of your audience into the creative process.  When should they be added? I think fans are added during collaboration, but the masses during critique.  The challenge here is; where are your fans (e.g. like minded people) and what is an efficient method of collaborating?  Things to be considered in a future post.

What do you think?  Am I stretching a preference into a principle or is this really a good way to view the development process?  Critiques are now welcome 🙂

The End of TV as We Know It and The Birth of Transmedia

The attached presentation is from Doug Scott and Matt Doherty at Ogilvy Media.

Here is an excerpt from the slide share posting:
“Throughout history, we have told stories. Stories are what connect us across geographies, cultures and experiences; stories demonstrate that we share the same hope, dreams, fears, challenges and desires. Today’s complex, digtally connected consumer universe makes brand storytelling more challenging, but also creates opportunities for brands to tell their stories in new ways.

Doug Scott and Matt Doherty discussed how the idea of TV might be a thing of the past, but the stories that drive our content will always be our constant. Our variable? Telling. Telling has evolved due to the primary role of digital in our lives and disruptive innovation which has given us the ability to craft transmedia experiences. Transmedia has brought a bought a new set of creative tools and narratives that are rooted in content, formed by context and crossed by all things culture.”

I appreciate how the authors mix storytelling for entertainment and branded storytelling into the same presentation path .  This meshes with my view of what marketing will look like in 10 years.  We’ll go from interruption to integration, from “sponsor” to “story contributor” and from a disconnected purchase path to instant commerce:  I saw it, I bought it.

The implications for marketers are huge, and also very exciting.

You can also see this presentation on

USA Network Brings Advertisers into Its Social TV Journey

Excerpt from eMarketer’s interview with Jesse Redniss;

eMarketer: USA Network launched its own social platform, Character Chatter, two years ago. How have brands gotten involved in that platform?

Redniss: The Character Chatter platform has become the central hub for real-time participation while our shows are on. It’s an aggregation of real-time conversation from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube videos, Get Glue check-ins, Viggle check-ins; it continues to gain a lot of momentum and popularity. A lot of other networks are launching very similar community-building platforms. CBS just announced its CBS Connect platform, for example. We’re trying to bring brand advertisers into the conversation. When the Ford Fusion, for example, is integrated into an episode of “White Collar,” it’s then easy for us to promote that positioning or brand integration in platforms like Character Chatter. When working with advertisers we take a “created with” approach. We don’t want people to view something as an ad, we want people to view it as added content to their “White Collar” show experience.

(Tina) Redniss, and USA get it: marketing is moving from interuption to integration.  This requires marketers to understand stories and storytelling in order to facilitate the inclusion of the brand’s story into the character’s story.  Such a beautiful thing.


See on

5 reasons Myspace is making a comeback

(Excerpt from the article)

“There’s a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff, and just connect,” Timberlake said at a news conference. “Myspace has the potential to be that place. Art is inspired by people and vice versa, so there’s a natural social component to entertainment. I’m excited to help revitalize Myspace by using its social media platform to bring artists and fans together in one community.”

5 reasons why Myspace is making a comeback:

  1. A new focus
  2. An ever-changing audience
  3. A much needed retooling
  4. A musical advantage
  5. A whole new attitude
IMO, Myspace is another example of the power of building a social platform for a like-minded community.  This is also the basis for Pinterests success, and the reason why Google+ has yet to hit a homerun.  Google is trying to be a generalist vs a specialist.
I go to Pinterest to hang-out with my chickie friends, Facebook for family, Linked-in for past/current co-workers, twitter for like-minded news/event junkies.
How about you?

See full article on

Marketers Challenged to Keep Pace with Mobile, Social (eMarketer Report)

Top 3 factors that are the biggest challenge to marketers :

1) Growth of channel and device choices

2) Customer collaberation and influence

3) Financial constraints /ROI accountability

eMarketer’s core take away from this data is that marketers are challenged to keep pace with proliferation of mobile & social tech, and therefore need to work more closely with tech groups.

As a counterpoint I add the following thought:  the proliferation of channels, media, tech, etc… requires the development of transmedia marketers: storytellers, technical generalists (and sometimes specialists!) and community enablers.

Full article from eMarketer here:

See on

What is Transmedia?

Recently, I tried to explain the concept of “transmedia storytelling” to some marketing friends.  I eventually drew this image on my whiteboard.  It gives a simplified view of the evolution from multimedia to transmedia and helps convey the ideas of “story elements” and “social participation”.

In marketer-speak “story elements” are like “message maps”.  Since marketers create message maps, sound-bites, speaking points, etc… we can easily grasp the concept of story elements.  Where transmedia breaks the mold is the idea that the story elements are designed to tell a single story across all media.  Today, many marketing orgs are very silo’d and story elements are developed that do not roll-up into a coherent story.  The idea of starting with a single story and then breaking it into elements for multiple media is a slight paradigm shift.

The real  “a-ha” moment is the concept of social participation.  Marketers may conceptualize the brand story and develop the story elements.  But the story that exists in the marketplace is a combination of what marketers say AND what the market says.  Unfortunately, many marketers try to control the brand story by keeping “social participation” in its own silo.   With transmedia, marketers don’t control the story – they enable the story.  They give story elements to the market.  They encourage the market to add, embellish, and play with the elements and then they bring some of those “market created” elements into the official brand story.  By enabling the market to contribute to the story, marketers create a sense of brand ownership which leads to brand fans.  Brand fans are a good thing 🙂

Let me know what else you would add!

Game of Thrones Scent Box – Transmedia Case Study: PT 2

Game of Thrones Scent Box

This is the second part of my personal spin on Deep Media’s Game of Thrones case study.  If you haven’t read Deep Media yet, I’ll wait while you read.  Go here —>


Ok – now I’ll give you my 2nd favorite snippet:  ” So they decided to introduce a new sense each week. But this led to other problems, starting with how to convey scent on the Internet. The couldn’t, of course. Instead, they turned to a real-world experience: They would make up scent boxes promising, as HBO put it in an accompanying letter, “an immersive experience of the land of Westeros,” where Game of Thrones is set. The boxes would go to a small number of influencers—bloggers, reporters, George Martin fans, and the like. “Open the boxes and there’s a whole world inside,” Coulson told us—parchments, glass vials, and six different scents with instructions on how to combine them. “Mix them together and you’d get the smells of Westeros.”

Lesson learned?  Include items from the physical world.  Billboards, locations, mementos and most importantly living, breathing people (or zombies if you have them)

I have a collection of interesting physical elements on my blog:  As digital becomes ubiquitous, physical becomes noticable…

The World of Transmedia Marketing

A few weeks ago I ran across a blog by Gary Hayes (brilliant!).  He developed a “metaphorical chart representing the key fragmented lands of media”, and uses this to help communicate the need for transmedia storytelling.  If you have time, go check out his blog (again, BRILLIANT!) Navigating the World of Multi-Platform & Transmedia Rituals | PERSONALIZE MEDIA.

Alth0ugh I love this image (because – yes it is brilliant!), I ended up creating my own “visual” for transmedia marketing.  Not as cool as Gary’s, but it does simplify the world of transmedia by breaking it down to the basic elements of transmedia marketing: physical, digital and interactive elements surrounding the core story, brand or lesson.

The physical world is the world of people, places and things.

  • “People” represents the real people who act as a character, sing a song, tell a story and (in the world of business) talk to customers.
  • “Places” are either story elements (a small cafe in Casablanca) or the physical location where story elements are displayed (theaters) or experienced (stores).
  • “Things” are possibly the dimension that is in the middle of most change and requires the most thought.  In the old world, “things” were the only means of conveying a story outside of a person (a book, a painting, a perfume) but in the new world many “things” have become digital (pictures) and even more things may become digital in the future (augmented reality).  However, as more things become digital, there will be a higher premium on physical things, and in some instances the “physical” may convey the ‘wow’ factor better than the digital (the smell of coffee may NEVER be replaced by a digital simulation).

I reduce the Digital World into the elements of images, text and sound.  As I explore this world, I also look for the underlying components of  ‘tools for creating the world’ and the ‘tools for receiving the world’.

I combine social and gaming under the bucket of “interactive” platforms.  This component of the world will continue evolving and growing for the next couple of decades.  Ultimately, the interactive platforms enable the physical world to interact with the digital world.  Nanotechnology may change this up in the future.

Marketers who live in the digital world are comfortable with “pushing” (display advertising) and “pulling” (search, inbound marketing).  Pushing requires the marketer to label people and push appropriate digital elements.  Pulling requires the marketer to label the business and place digital elements where people can find them.

Marketers who live in the interactive world understand that they create digital elements, and then give them to people to push, pull, twang, morph, lob, etc…

Transmedia is scarier, and funner.

Is Conan O’Brien a Transmedia Entertainer?

I think Conan O’Brien is high-larious – often laugh- out-loud, snorting thru my nose kinda stuff – and his Team Coco concept is brilliant.  The question I have is: is this transmedia entertainment?

1) If we all agree that “transmedia” is an adjective.

2) And, we all agree that “transmedia” is not the same as franchises, sequels etc… (see wikipedia’s def of transmedia):  Transmedia storytelling (also known as Multiplatform Storytelling) is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies, not to be confused with traditional cross-platform media franchises,[1] sequels or adaptations.

3) Then we apply these concepts to Conan’s entertaining universe: Conan provides a single entertaining experience across multiple formats and platforms (see examples below)

Old Media

New Media
  • Web: – includes behind the scene and other content not found any other place
Social Media / Games
  • Very active on twitter & facebook – both broadcasting and responding
  • He hasn’t created an ARG or developed a “studio” zynga’s castleville

Then, can we agree that Conan is a transmedia entertainer?