Lights, cameras, brands. Imagine your product woven seamlessly into the storyline of your favorite television show or movie. What would that look like? Can you picture the audience\u2019s reaction after the piece is released? That was genius, they might say.\u00a0Okay, time to step back to the present moment. Branded entertainment is a tricky practice, but if done right can bring your brand to new audiences and increase its public awareness.\u00a0 But what\u2019s the difference between branded entertainment, branded content, and product placement? What are the benefits? We\u2019ve compiled the tips, tricks, and information you need to get your brand on the silver screen and beyond.\u00a0 What is branded entertainment? Branded entertainment goes back as early as the 1930s with Procter & Gamble. The brand, known for its detergents, sponsored and produced the first radio serial dramas that \u201cbecame known as \u2018soap operas.\u2019\u201d When televisions started showing up in American homes, P&G continued to sponsor soap operas until the early 2000s.\u00a0 Branded entertainment is, at its most basic, the \u201cinsertion of a brand within an entertainment property in such a way that the line between entertainment and advertising becomes blurred.\u201d The term can be used interchangeably with branded content, as well. This type of branding goes beyond traditional advertising and can include \u201carticles, videos, podcasts, and even live elements that bring relevant value to the consumer.\u201d\u00a0 According to an AdWeek piece, branded entertainment is more \u201cnecessary and effective\u201d today than ever. In fact, it \u201coutperforms every other medium for brand marketers.\u201d This effectiveness is in part due to the rise of social media and mobile entertainment. Brands are now literally in the hands of their audience and accessible at any time. Done well, branded entertainment amplifies the brand promise, creates product demand, and engages its audience.\u00a0 The difference between product placement and branded entertainment\u00a0 If you are still unsure about what exactly branded entertainment is, it may sound a lot like product placement. The main differentiators between the two are that product placement features a branded item whereas, in branded entertainment, the product is the feature.\u00a0 Branded content seamlessly weaves the product into the storyline so that audiences feel that it is an authentic part of the entertainment. Perhaps the best way to summarize the difference is that that branded content \u201cis providing entertainment, not interrupting it.\u201d\u00a0 That said, it\u2019s no wonder that branded entertainment lands better among younger generations who generally hate or distrust traditional advertising. However, a study from Defy found that 58% of younger viewers \u201cdon\u2019t mind watching ads to support their favorite digital personalities.\u201d Plus, 87% approve of product placement. These combined could help explain why branded content is an effective marketing tool.\u00a0 Branded entertainment examples\u00a0 Brands that experiment and test the boundaries of their marketing scope stay in the minds of consumers. Despite its earlier iterations in T.V. and movies, branded entertainment applies to several different categories: sponsored articles, music videos, and short films, to name a few. Here are some of the more memorable pieces:\u00a0 The Lego Movie\u00a0 Perhaps one of the most obvious examples of branded content is The Lego Movie. The entire movie was focused on one brand, brought to life with clever animation and innuendo. From a marketing standpoint, the intersection between parents who were once Lego users and children who might be or could be was brilliant. The movie\u2019s benefits were twofold for the brand. It earned \u201cover $469 million, all the while promoting Lego to a new global generation of kids.\u201d\u00a0 Netflix & Orange Is the New Black\u00a0 Netflix\u2019s popular drama with a cult following took their branded content a step further with a New York Times sponsored article. The article, \u201cWomen Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn\u2019t Work,\u201d helped to match \u201cthe right marketing message with engaging and informing content.\u201d Despite the show sponsoring the article, it was not an advertisement for it. It was merely a vehicle by which to communicate a pressing message with a broader audience.\u00a0 Nascar\u00a0 The vehicles Nascar drivers use are essentially moving billboards. Brands who partner with Nascar are part of the entertainment during every race. Beyond this, Nascar opened an L.A. office in 2007 so they could further embed themselves with entertainment. Another example of their branded content includes their part in the film \u201cTalladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby.\u201d They also coined the T.V. series \u201cYoung Guns\u201d where Nascar drivers taught celebrities the art of high speeds.\u00a0 Cast Away\u00a0 Although FedEx famously received publicity from the 2000 hit \u201cCast Away\u201d for free, it is still a great example of branded entertainment. The company did, however, have a say in the film and according to Gail Christensen, in global brand management at FedEx, they chose to participate because \u201c\u2018It\u2019s not product placement, we\u2019re a character in the movie.\u2019\u201d Rather than Tom Hanks\u2019 character simply using FedEx products, the company was an integral part of the film going beyond product placement.\u00a0 Dove Dove\u2019s \u201cReal Beauty Sketches\u201d content piece featured an FBI sketch artist who compared sketches based on women\u2019s descriptions of themselves and sketches based on strangers\u2019 descriptions of them. The resulting video had close to 180 million views and became the most-watched branded content in 2013. This example showed how branded content could be visual, inspiring, and also further a brand\u2019s core messaging.\u00a0 The benefits of branded entertainment\u00a0 With recent examples of branded entertainment like The Lego Movie, it\u2019s evident that brands are attempting to compete in the changing entertainment landscape. An AdWeek article from 2016 posited that brands can no longer simply make content; they need to be entertainment.\u00a0 So, although branded content is used frequently in place of brand entertainment, it is perhaps becoming a misnomer. With crossovers between almost every industry, the possibilities are endless for brands.\u00a0 Perhaps the most notable benefits are:\u00a0 Reinforcing your story\u00a0 An authentic piece of branded entertainment will help your story feel \u201cmore honed and focused on your core values, message, and mission.\u201d Let\u2019s say you own an ice cream shop with national outlets. From the beginning, you have focused on the memories and connections ice cream makes. When you hear Netflix is launching a new reunion series where participants meet in a neutral location, you jump at the chance. What is a sweeter place to reunite than an ice cream shop? And what says more about connections?\u00a0 Reaching your audience\u00a0 You may have an established audience and already know the channels they frequent. But what if you could reach your audience and then some? As in The Lego Movie example, which appealed to adults and their children, branded entertainment could expand your reach. One way to do this is to have a \u201csymbiotic relationship\u201d with micro-celebrities and influencers. Going back to the ice cream shop example, if you land the Netflix gig, you might then turn to a micro-influencer who blogs about lifestyle and food-related content, or to someone who was featured on the show to share how your shop helped them connect.\u00a0 Creating trust\u00a0\u00a0 For brands, establishing and growing trust should be a top priority. If you focus on \u201cshowing your customers that you\u2019re willing to put them first, instead of focusing exclusively on your profits,\u201d you are creating trust one piece of content at a time. Much of this benefit has to do with the type of branded content you choose. For instance, the ice cream shop should probably not choose to be part of a horror movie or a heavy-metal band sing-off. The inauthenticity would certainly be noticeable. Users seek out brands that are consistent, but that can also excite them.\u00a0 Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for your brand to pursue branded entertainment is the fact that consumers are carrying around dynamic sources of entertainment in their pocket, i.e., their smartphones. The access is immediate, and the opportunities are countless. Statistics don\u2019t lie, either. Research shows that brand recall is 59% higher, and consumers are 14% more likely to pursue other brand content. As brands become creators more, \u201cthe effect of all this is that brands are able to develop an enduring direct-to-consumer relationship.\u201d\u00a0 Tips for branded entertainment: the how\u00a0\u00a0 Now for the all-important how. If your brand is attempting to break into entertainment, there are some rules of thumb to follow. Use emotions Visceral, real content that makes users feel something should be the goal here. Not every piece of branded content needs to make users cry, of course. But it should elicit a palpable emotion\u2013\u2013joy, melancholy, surprise, anticipation, love, etc. After all, \u201cthe whole point of brand content is that it\u2019s designed to connect with an audience on a deeper level.\u201d\u00a0 Entertain consumers It seems like it should go without saying, but a large part of branded entertainment is to, well, entertain. Your consumers have options. Lots of options. So your branded content choices need to be interesting, authentic, and captivating. In the digital age, attention \u201cneeds to be earned.\u201d\u00a0 Be visual\u00a0 It\u2019s a classic scenario of show, don\u2019t tell. Branded entertainment is, by nature, visual so use that to your advantage with imagery, videography, animation, etc. Whether done in-house or outsourced, the goal here is to create something memorable and meaningful.\u00a0 Do good A Brookings report revealed that almost 90% of millennials \u201cwant to support brands that do good.\u201d \u2018Doing good\u2019 means a brand is associated with a particular cause or charity and has a purpose beyond profits. A relevant content outlet here could be a documentary or scripted collaboration in support of your brand\u2019s cause.\u00a0 Other considerations when pursuing branded content are setting brand goals, doing your research on partners and affiliates, and developing a distribution plan.\u00a0\u00a0 Time to create\u00a0 Branded entertainment has evolved from 1930s P&G soap operas. It is now the new attainable goal for marketers as it has to ability to engage, inform, and capture audiences. Branded entertainment \u201creaches your fans right where they are\u201d and allows you to be creative and a genuine part of the entertainment piece. As technology and branded content applications evolve further, so can your brand. What are you waiting for?