Analysis: The Brand Integration Trend and What it Implies

Several recent developments in Latin and general market media show how important brand integration -the melting of PR and Advertising in media offerings- is becoming.

Portada’s editorial team tried to dissect what is going on.

What are examples of recent brand integrations?

On the media side, 10 days ago Univision introduced its new telenovela Eva Luna. The degree and sophistication of brand integration in Eva Luna reached a new stage. The most significant brand integration was that of General Motors, which is using Eva Luna to pitch not one but three GM cars: the Chevy Cruze, the Chevy Traverse and the Buick Regal Turbo, all of which play a “significant role in the development of the drama,” Bridget Wanczyk, GM’s branded entertainment manager told Portada.

As our contributor Laura Martinez wrote “Eva Luna is the first primetime novela produced by Univision Studios in co-production with Venevision. It is also the first major attempt by Univision to weave products into its dramas, something the network couldn’t do with the series it imports from Mexico and which rival Telemundo has been doing for quite some time now.” Telemundo has its main production studios in Bogota, Colombia.

The implication of the brand integration trend for TV networks is that it requires networks to work much harder on production and makes it almost impossible to buy finished products from “pure” audiovisual content producers.


How are agencies adapting to this new client demand?  

Yesterday,  Newlink America was founded. A new firm that merges PR and advertising to offer integrated communications services to the U.S. and U.S. Hispanic audiences. “Neither advertising nor public relations alone present a viable singular communications option to link today’s web-connected consumer of information and messages,” said Ortega, co-founder and managing partner of Newlink America. 

Nowadays, advertising agencies are putting much attention on “audience creation”, a role that formerly was almost the exclusive domain of media companies. Audience creation melts traditional PR and advertising tools into one platform that is created, often on a custom (client specific basis) for clients (corporations targeting consumers). “Audience creation is a crucial weapon in the arsenal to create ad effectiveness”, Mediabrands head Matt Freeman told paidcontent.

So the lines between media, client and agencies are getting ever more blurred?

We are in the age of POEM (Paid, Owned and Earned Media). Media planners and brand marketers plan a brand’s marketing initiatives using the POEM matrix. 

From a marketer’s perspective Earned Media (positive coverage, PR), Paid Media (bought media through advertising), and Owned Media (channels a brand controls, e.g. websites, custom pubs etc…) complement each other. In fact, the boundaries between paid, owned and earned media are fluid too. Social networks, for example, are partly owned media, partly paid media.

Related to POEM is the growth of content marketing: Clients (companies) are using and distributing content themselves to connect and engage current and potential customers.


So is the role of media companies being diminished?

Clearly, content is no longer an almost exclusive domain of media properties. However, the opportunities for media companies are huge. Content, one of media’s main assets, is more important than ever and in order to capitalize on that, media owners have to become a bit more service providers and a bit less advertising vehicles. What counts is their expertise in creating, managing, distributing and marketing content. To some extent, media properties are entering the agency business. They can offer their owned and operated media as vehicles to advertisers (paid media) but, more importantly, they advice clients in their overall marketing plans which include client owned media and earned media as well as other ad placements (other paid media). As an example, see for instance the way Hearst Newspapers brands itself as “Hearst Media Solutions” or Meredith’s integrated marketing unit which provides corporations and brands with custom marketing solutions.