Advertainment: Examples & Overview

Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and is currently working on his PhD in Higher Education Administration.

Twenty years ago it was hard to avoid commercials. As technology has made it easier to skip commercials, advertisers have found new ways to reach consumers. One of these strategies is the hybrid of an advertisement and entertainment - advertainment.

Definition of Advertainment

Advertainment is an advertising strategy that appeals to the audience by engaging them using entertaining mediums, such as songs, movies, television, games, and electronic communication. Advertainment was first developed in the mid-1990s as a response to technology that recorded television shows, allowing the watchers to skip the commercials. Advertisers were paying for air time, but were reaching a smaller audience.

Advertainment can be something relatively simple, such as when a company hires a popular artist to sing a jingle, or it can be very complex, such as the ABC television show Push, Nevada. In Push, Nevada, the audience would look for clues alongside the protagonist, often associated with products or services that sponsored the show, that would send them to websites, direct them to call phone numbers, or instruct them to watch other shows for more clues. The audience member that was able to solve the clues won a prize of $1 million.

The line between advertainment and traditional advertisements is not clear or distinct. Some advertisers consider product placement, the strategic use of products in movies or TV, as a form of entertainment. Most advertisers, however, believe that advertainment requires more than just a casual reference or appearance; they expect whatever is being advertised to be discussed repetitively and be a central part of the entertainment.

Examples of Advertainment

In October 2012, stuntman Felix Baumgartner had the attention of the news and millions of people as he attempted to set a world record by skydiving from space. From almost 128,000 feet above sea level, Baumgartner jumped from a balloon. He was in freefall for over 4 minutes and reached speeds of over 800 mph. It was entertainment for anyone that watched it and a worldwide news story for everyone else.

But, it wasn't just entertainment. The entire production was sponsored by Red Bull, the energy drink that often sponsors extreme sport productions. It wasn't just sponsored by Red Bull: the analysts that announced the event were hired by Red Bull and much of the discussion between Baumgartner and the announcers focused on how much Red Bull helped Baumgartner train and perform.

Another popular example of advertainment occurs each season during the popular reality television show American Idol. Ford produces a music video about one of their vehicles sung by the final six or eight contestants. The music is written by a popular songwriter and directed by someone who produces videos for mainstream artists.

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