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What “Jurassic World” Can Teach Marketers About Brand Advocates

Posted on 7.28.2015

Je Matthews, Tagkast 

In addition to grossing more than $1 billion worldwide, “Jurassic World,” the newest addition to the Jurassic Park franchise, offers an interesting case study for the marketing industry. While many fans applaud the film for its life-like CGI renderings and others for its big-name cast, marketers and advertisers alike have drawn attention to the film’s brand placements.

What’s perhaps most noteworthy about “Jurassic World’s” branding is the big volume and heavy-handedness. As one article from The Washington Post explains, “When the dino hunters of 'Jurassic World' race into action, they don’t just use any car: They roar into the jungle aboard Mercedes-Benz G-Class luxury SUVs.” Not only des the film employ brand placements, but these items are part of the cinematic foreground. The characters interact with the chosen products just as much as they interact with one another.

Brand placement is hardly a new marketing technique, one as old as dinosaurs perhaps. However, the approach taken by “Jurassic World” forces marketers to consider an important question – is there a right approach?

The answer seems to be yes. The key to effective brand placement is to tell a story and to create advocacy.

The Power of Storytelling

Consumers don’t remember brands in general – they remember stories. Let’s assume that the fictional Jurassic World is real and envision a “typical” (non-life threatening) day in the life of a park guest. After a day of fun, theme park visitors are going to remember the experience of riding the rides or eating food. Instead of randomly placing logos around Jurassic World, brands like Starbucks and Margaritaville should have placed their logo on the park’s memorabilia and ride reaction photos. Not only would the visitors remember the brand more concretely, as it’s linked with a memory instead of an object, but when they share the photo on Facebook (it’s assumed “Jurassic World” visitors have Facebook), their hundreds of friends would see the logo as well. By integrating their branding with potential digital channels, marketers can achieve massive online reach and engagement.

The real-world companies of the fictional “Jurassic World” are already spending marketing dollars to brand their customer experience. By taking it a step further and branding memories, brands can tackle the issues of placement and volume, standing out in the minds and memories of consumers. Companies outside of “Jurassic World” can use branded photography to perpetuate the loyalty of one customer to many others. 

The Power of Brand Advocacy

There are so many brands slapped across the fictional Jurassic World, the approach was rather tongue-in-cheek. The producers acknowledge it’s over the top and addresses the placement of Starbucks, Margaritaville and others head on. Brands like Mercedes, Coke and Beats by Dre, on the other hand, are incorporated into the storyline and therefore more engaging. Moviegers won’t remember a simple logo, for example, but they will remember the movie’s main characters driving around in Mercedes-Benz or listening to iPods with their Beats headphones. By incorporating the brands into the story, the characters become brand advocates. 

However, earning brand advocates des not have to be limited to product placement or celebrity endorsers. Companies can use branded photography to nature the valuable consumer relationship at live events, like a theme park, concert or sporting event. Every photo taken and shared by a brand advocate across social channels serves as a reputable endorsement for your product.

The Power of Peer Endoresements

Social media is the common man’s big screen. When a Facebook user sees a branded photo of a friend having fun at a theme park, that brand’s name is going to stick. Those sharing branded photos almost effortlessly become brand advocates, and peer endorsements are often more influential than celebrity endorsements. This is particularly valuable on mobile, where more and more consumers are turning to purchase. 

Brand placement can be achieved in a more organic way through memory association and personalized brand advocates. As brands extend their moment in the spotlight, both on and off screen, there are more strategic ways to leverage digital mediums. 

Je Matthews is the co-founder and CEO of Tagkast, a social advertising platform that turns event photography into branded content. Before that, while attending Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, Je co-founded Poggled, an events and daily deals site for nightlife. Before Kellogg, Je worked in investment banking and retail consulting.

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