At the Nashville-based entertainment marketing agency FlyteVu, co-founder Laura Hutfless has a box seat for the shift from physical to digital campaign execution. I recently asked her to share her thoughts on these changes.
Paul Talbot: What sort of significant entertainment marketing innovations has the pandemic triggered?
Laura Hutfless: Simply put, the pandemic accelerated the industry’s journey to digital and innovative tech solutions. The industry has quickly adopted livestreaming, augmented reality, virtual reality, virtual meet and greets and more. The shift was always inevitable, but Covid has officially transported the industry to a digital-first economy.
Talbot: Can we gauge to what extent the Covid pandemic has put the brakes on entertainment marketing?
Hutfless: Traditional forms of marketing are not delivering the same results due to shifts in content consumption and the obstacles presented by experiential marketing. Brands are looking for innovative ways to reach consumers. The Covid pandemic has poured gasoline on entertainment marketing, as brands are turning to it as a solution.
The entertainment industry has quickly shifted to virtual offerings that reach millions upon millions of fans who are passionate and loyal. Brands have recognized this opportunity, and forward-focused brands are shifting spends to align with relevant voices (talent, artists, influencers) who have engaged followings.
Talbot: Activation challenges aside, has the pandemic altered the basic value proposition of a relationship between brands, music and entertainment?
Hutfless: Artists, talent and more importantly, brands, are willing to take risks, try new technology platforms and engage with innovative partners who have the capabilities and following to help them reach consumers/fans in a new way.
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Artists have lost revenue from touring due to the pandemic and are looking for opportunities to stay relevant and use their creative talents. We’ve found that the cost/fee structure has now shifted to a value-trade. Brands who create experiences, stream content, or distribute content like Fortnite, Twitch and TikTok are able to align with creators and entertainers by providing value and tools for them to reach new fans.
The artists who recognize the need to engage on these platforms and invest the time to develop followings while they are off the road are the ones who will find the most success in the long run.
Talbot: With venues shuttered and artists embracing new ways of connecting with their audiences, how are the brands which value entertainment marketing making similar adjustments?
Hutfless: All brands are turning to virtual solutions. For our philanthropic clients, we’ve hosted virtual galas with performances by A-list stars to continue fundraising efforts.
For Carter’s, a children’s and baby apparel brand, we hosted a virtual baby shower hosted by Kelly Clarkson for moms who missed their showers due to Covid. Bumble promoted virtual dating and chat functions, connecting celebrities with consumers. A brand first needs to understand the needs of their consumers during this unprecedented time and fill that need. Stop selling products; start selling solutions.
Talbot: When we look back on the year 2020 and are able to put changes into perspective, what do you think some of the noteworthy observations will be?
Hutfless: When we look back on 2020, we’ll recognize that it was a pivotal year that separated the industry’s innovators from the coasters.
This year has made way for new, innovative and optimistic leaders to rise who will carry this industry forward over the next decade, who aren’t afraid to take risks, fail fast, learn and grow.
Power shifted from major industry giants to the small, innovative teams who could route a new course and adapt quickly.
Talbot: Any other insights on entertainment marketing you’d like to share?
Hutfless: Brands are no longer resigned to the role of a passenger on the culture bus, they have an opportunity to step into the driver’s seat and affect change. There is a unique opportunity to unite pop culture, advocacy/philanthropy and brand and we’re seeing that come together now more than ever.
Consumers buy from brands who align with their beliefs and values. Brands who stand for integrity and trust will be more effective in reaching consumers and will earn respect in the long game.