Brand Innovators 2022 Outlook: Entertainment

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In the 11th installment of our 2022 Outlook Series, Brand Innovators speaks to marketing leaders in the entertainment business about what is in store for 2022.

The pandemic has transformed how consumers look for entertainment, both in the virtual space and in the real world. Even as consumers return to music venues and movie theaters, their pandemic-era at-home viewing will continue, whether they are tuning in to watch the latest blockbuster on a streaming platform or to check out their favorite band perform at a festival that offers a hybrid option. 

In 2022, brands will continue to entertain and inspire consumers where they are, whether that experience is in their home environments or out in the world.

“Every day at Anheuser-Busch, we're striving to be both innovative and people-centric,” says Shana Barry, head of music + entertainment at Anheuser-Busch. “This means using our products or the culture of our products to add value to the consumer's life, rather than disrupt it. We have been experts in product placement for more than 25 years, but now it's, happily, much more than that - it's about full funnel relevance, and in a meaningful way. We want to be first of mind and create natural connections during the stock-up, the in-home experience and if we did it right, beyond the show's wrap. We're also extremely keen on growing our Entertainment practice to other verticals, specifically ecom and experiential as we navigate the world beyond COVID.”   

The pandemic shifted the music business and festivals and events had to reinvent live shows online. With vaccinations widely available, this year consumers were happy to return to in-person events but bands still stayed closer to home and sometimes had to cancel. Expect more live shows in 2022.

“2022 is slated to be one of the most active touring years in history,” says Russell Wallach, president at Live Nation Media & Sponsorship. “Fans are returning to live music events in record numbers presenting marketers with tremendous opportunities to approach live music as a test kitchen to introduce new products, messages, reimagine loyalty offerings, and overall connect with their customers in a more meaningful and memorable way.” 

Even as people return to in-real-life experiences, digital engagement will continue to thrive and fans will continue to look for new ways to interact with their favorite musicians including through live streaming. “Fans are increasingly looking to connect with other fans and brands that align with their values,” Wallach continues. “We will continue to see new forms of technology from crypto and cashless payments to 5G powering always-on social sharing and fans exploring NFTs in unique ways. We will see fans celebrate the return by trying new looks, foods, and beverages. Deprivation breeds demand, and live will be the most powerful medium to be in next year and beyond given the lost time the world wants to make up for.” 

Video streaming was valued at $27 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow to $30 billion in revenue next year, according to Business of Apps, as consumers spend more time watching content and spend money on more subscriptions. 

“The way consumers want to connect with a brand, particularly in the streaming age, requires entertainment brands to be more thoughtful, intentional and creative in their approach,” says Ukonwa Ojo, chief marketing officer at Prime Video and Amazon Studios. “It’s not simply about placing ads where the consumer is – it’s about speaking their language and showing up authentically where they are.”  

“For Prime Video, that means creating a seamless experience across social, digital, experiential, OOH, and more,” Ojo continues. “In 2022, we envision our viewers entering our brand experience through social, a dedicated activation or the Amazon suite of offerings and discovering shows such as The Boys and The Wheel of Time. Once they are excited by what they watch, we want to make sure they have multiple touchpoints to engage with whether it’s shopping for an outfit they loved on a character via Amazon Prime or streaming music from the show through Amazon Music. We have the unique opportunity to connect with consumers through multiple touchpoints and provide a truly enriching experience.”

Lara Richardson, chief marketing officer at Crown Media Family Networks says that the pandemic made us understand the importance of family and the value of other people and this mindset is shaping the kinds of entertainment that consumers are looking for. “People are seeking a lighter approach in certain entertainment aspects. They do want to watch the heavier stuff, but we saw people flood to us for that escape and for that positivity,” says Richardson. “And I hope that that feeling of seeking out positivity, and time with other people and putting love into the world. It’s really about the human connection and connecting with each other and being in a place of joy and happiness rather than negativity. That is what we do here at Hallmark, where we’re about putting love and positivity into the world.”

Emily Boschwitz, senior vice president of marketing at Cameo predicts that in 2022, “consumers will increasingly co-create with the brands they choose to identify with and purchase from. From the establishment of brand values, to building content and products. Nurturing an authentic community and providing them increasing access to build together will accelerate businesses forward.”

New virtual spaces will likely play a key role next year as consumers and brands explore the potential of the metaverse.

“The idea of the metaverse will become the norm in 2022 as brands race to figure out how to adopt this strategy, which Gen Z consumers were so quick to latch on to,” says April Tombs, agent at United Talent Agency. “Gaming grew as a leader in innovation and will continue to dominate even as others start to catch up. What Epic Games, for example, was able to accomplish with in game advertising and purchases made the industry take notice, because the impact has proven so much greater than what is often achieved in traditional advertising. And you can walk away with real time metrics and data that brands can then utilize immediately.”

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