Losing control of integration can be a winning formula

Michael Stanford
By Michael Stanford | 8 September 2023
Michael Stanford.

Michael Stanford, Head of Paramount ANZ Brand Studio, Paramount ANZ

Open any brand bible and it becomes evident that we like to be reassured by approved fonts, clearly articulated logo hierarchies, and brand personalities so precise and upbeat it makes a mere mortal feel inadequate. Add to this a manifesto that decrees purpose, ledgers of ‘not this’ and ‘never do that’, and both newcomers and old hands are all on the same page (or chapter, given their size).

Undoubtedly, the greatest brands have been built with rule books. But what if you bring something that makes perfect sense into an imperfect world?

Take integration in a reality format. You may know how the brand or product will be positioned but the reactions from contestants or panelists are real, or at least real enough. It hasn’t been storyboarded or timed out to 15 or 30 seconds, there is no director’s treatment and there is little if any chance to reshoot or re-edit. Sounds like a nightmare, until you see results of 56% increase in brand awareness,14% increase in consideration and 23% increase in purchase intent. 

So, what is the secret to brand integration success? It’s that magical mix of candid endorsement, high relevance, mass reach, and cultural imprinting all while an audience is attentive and primed to engage.

Funnily enough, one way to really dial up the authenticity of your integration is with comedians. Research regularly shows the trusted role they play in society. Comedians are seen as people who are true to their own spirit and values, regardless of the pressure to conform, with a steely commitment to protect and defend the precious relationship they have with their audience.

Placing your brand in the hands of Australia’s best comedians may seem terrifying, but for those that do, the success is no laughing matter. Mitsubishi is enjoying its fifth-year partnership with Have You Been Paying Attention? Nothing can frighten their media agency and brand team, not even when Tom Gleisner gave himself a starring role in their ads.

Subway placed their footlong in The Cheap Seats and watched as their integration stretched to new lengths. When the nine-metre media wall wasn’t wide enough, we spread the integration into another format. And just a few weeks ago, Officeworks turned an EOFY sale into a story that extended over multiple nights, involved the CEO of the company, and garnered thousands of comments on social media. Who would have thought you could re-write the rules of integration with a calligraphy pen?

At the core, entertainers will go above and beyond to ensure their interaction with your brand is entertaining while being true to the narrative of the show, not to mention their own inimitable tone of voice. Julia Morris can keep us laughing in I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! while ensuring the integrated brand is the hero. She won’t give you exactly what you want, but it will authentically connect with viewers - and that’s exactly what you want.

Viewers love these unscripted brand moments where the rule book is thrown out the window, or out the blue door. Sorry I couldn’t help but mention the triumph that is Thank God You’re Here. All bias aside (if that is ever possible), Thank God You’re Here is absolutely brilliant, and goes to show how much Australians love fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants performances and having no idea what will happen next.

So, what does all this mean for your brand? Think of it this way. Imagine inviting Australia’s funniest and most loved entertainers to your next creative brainstorm. Sound like fun? It’s much more than that. It is seriously one of the most potent ways to drive brand fame and connect with your consumers. And if you do it, I promise you will Thank God you did.

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