Branded entertainment is only for clients with huge budgets, many agencies will tell you.

What those agencies really mean is that you can’t afford to create branded entertainment with them. Because they’re probably thinking about the production of that content in terms of TV commercial budgets. If a 30-second TV spot costs $300,000, then a series of webisodes totaling 4 minutes must cost 8 times that, right? Wrong. It may cost the same or even less. It all depends on the style and tone of the content, along with where it will be distributed.

Before we delve into why branded entertainment is achievable on basically any budget, let’s first talk about what it is and look at some examples.

What Is Branded Entertainment?

Simply put, it’s entertaining content. That’s all. It doesn’t require a celebrity or an iconic brand. It can be shot on an iPhone or a Red Dragon 16k Max Lux Triple Thunder (that is mostly made up). One common belief is that branded entertainment has to be funny, but it can be emotional or enlightening. A series of super-technical videos on how to install an air conditioner? Sure, that counts. Why not? The key is that the subject matter is presented in a way that, well, entertains people and connects with them. Everything doesn’t have to be the Lego Movie.

Examples Of Branded Entertainment

Let’s start with an expensive one, shall we?

OK Go + Honda

You’ll notice in the music video that the band members (and others) are riding Honda self-balancing unicycles. The video currently has 40 million views, which is not bad. Not bad at all. This is an example of both a very creative and very subtle piece of branded entertainment. Perhaps not relevant to the lower budget subject matter of this post, but fun nonetheless.

Men’s Health + Fitbit

In 2017, Fitbit partnered with Men’s Health on a project to see if one of their columnists could learn to walk a tightrope…in just four days. The result was interesting and highlights how a piece of content can integrate the brand into a story. In this instance, the columnist (Clint Harper) can tell using his Fitbit that his heart is racing at 133 beats per minute (and then 143) as he tries to walk the rope suspended above a 60-foot gorge. The content combines an article, videos and photos.

Purple Mattress + Tim & Eric

As quirky as branded entertainment gets, say hello to the Purple Boys, a creative collaboration between Purple and the famed comedy duo Tim & Eric. The series of videos are hilarious and were used to connect with a millennial audience who had no particular reason or affinity for buying mattresses the old-fashioned way at the nearest mattress store. Very funny and a little offbeat, just like the brand itself.

There are literally thousands of other examples across the web, from any number of BuzzFeed videos to The Onion Labs. The point is this: there are almost as many forms of branded content as there are places to distribute it these days.

Many times, NOT having a well-known celebrity can help validate the content.

Okay Fine, But What About My Brand?

Good point. These examples are interesting, but how does any of that apply to you. It starts with your brand’s goal. Are you trying to educate people on the details of your product or service? Or simply trying to get brand awareness? Or, the goal could be to connect with an audience in a place they live (Instagram, for example) as opposed to a national TV spot or radio commercial.

Once you know why you’re interested in branded entertainment, the what comes next.

This can sometimes be where things fall apart. The budgets add up quickly and all the suggested creator-partners (musician, influencer, comedy team, etc.) seem out of reach from a financial standpoint. But it really goes back to what you’re trying to make. Let’s say you’re a haircare brand and want a series of funny videos on Instagram to connect with millennials. At no point in that sentence were the words “celebrity” or “iconic brand” or “million dollars” mentioned. Instead, you’d simply need to find a funny influencer or scrappy production company to develop ideas and the content — many times NOT having a well-known celebrity can help validate the content.

Got a healthcare brand and want to demonstrate your customer service? Send an influencer to the hospital for a check-up and have them capture the whole process. Is HIPPA an issue? Make that part of the content.

Want to connect new moms with your nutritional supplement? Find out the TV shows those moms are watching and craft a web series along the same lines with the supplement worked into a storyline.

These are basic examples, but here’s the thing…

The Good News (And Don’t Let Anyone Else Tell You Differently)

Ten or fifteen years ago, it really did cost too much money to create videos for online use. But technology has progressed to the point where you really just need the idea, actors and a production team capable of bringing the vision to life. While it’s impossible to give an exact budget without knowing all the parameters, here are some things to make you feel better about the situation.

+ Video series are possible for less than $100,000. Not every series and you probably won’t get a notable actor in it, but it’s possible.

+ You don’t need a million views. Depending on your objective, 50,000 targeted views might get the job done. At the same time, any decent content should be able to get plenty of views with a minimal boost budget behind it on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. YouTube? You can buy those views for 3 to 5 cents each.

+ Influencers want to do cool stuff. Sure, you can pay them $500 to do a sponsored photo on their channel. But they want to create interesting content as well, so the idea of engaging them to partner on videos will help with their rates if you (the brand) are footing the production bill.

+ Production companies know how to do this. You’re not going to hire the same “A list” director for your web series as someone just did for their Super Bowl spot. But that’s fine. There are directors and creators and storytellers who will be able to produce online content way more efficiently (and more appropriately).

Why Should You Listen To Us?

We’ve done it. We’ve created video series for $50,000. And $100,000. A million views? Sure. 150,000 organic views? Yep. Below are a few examples of the types of branded entertainment we’ve produced. So while we’re not saying you should hire Bandolier Media for all your branded entertainment needs (though we’d love that!), we do think we can speak with some credibility when we say there are ways for every brand to create engaging content regardless of budget.

The Home Depot + Classic Dad

Cuvée Coffee

Duck Tape + Classic Dad

No matter who you work with, putting out entertaining content is key to a brand’s success in 2019. And it’s never been more achievable. Contact us if you’d like to chat more.