A little more than a year ago, the guys at Eqal who created Lonely Girl 15 (www.LG15.com)
and Kate Modern (www.katemodern.com)
wrote a new character into the plot of LG15 and took brand interaction
and product placement to a whole new level. I thought it would be great
to revisit this story as it still serves as a shining example of
integrated, authentic brand marketing.
The character, a (fictitious) scientist working for Neutrogena, was created by Eqal and Neutrogena (with the help of CAA) as a life-imitating-art and vice versa situation for LG15. The goal was to credibly weave a real life brand into the story in a way that viewers would accept. Through careful design of the plot and treatment, Eqal and Neutrogena built the character and enlisted the help of viewers to recruit the character to the cause of eliminating the evil group,"The Order," in the story. In real life, they created an entry in the Neutrogena corporate directory (and email) for the character so fans could interact and become part of the story. The response was significant, with the fictitious character receiving thousands of email pleas to join in.
No doubt this took a lot of hand holding with the brand, but what's
cool is that adding a Neutrogena scientist to the plot did not offend
viewers, as LG15 is set in the real world, with real world surroundings
and brands. In fact, a real brand presence added to the realism of the
story. More importantly, the brand immersion was huge. Neutrogena
reached a value demographic, placed their brand in a quality context,
and garnered tons of interaction from fans, many of whom set up
websites, recorded videos, and created their own content around support
for Neutrogena, the character and the products of the company.
This is a great illustration of the interactive, immersive potential
of brand advertising in digital media. With time, more courage from
authentic brands, and the applied knowledge of interactive marketing
agencies, I expect new and more exciting forms of advertising and brand
building to come to the fore. Stay tuned.