Mark another hit for branded entertainment. Ford Motor Company announced that it will co-opt independent film in order to reach a more edgy and marketing-savvy audience for its newly relaunched Mercury brand — and the 2006 Milan model, which is positioned for the stylish, cool, urban and younger consumer. Top
The first of four 10-minute films — “Wait” — is being screened in 25 theatres across the country as part of Glamour magazine’s “Reel Moments” promotion. The special one-day screening precedes trailers for the movie “Domino.”

Mercury has also partnered with Landmark Theatres, the largest independent film chain in the US with 209 outlets. The 2-year deal gives Mercury all-access to these theatres to launch promotions, throw parties and events, and create on-screen content for the theater-goers. This includes a 10-second film bumper for Mercury before all screenings.

On the other hand, BMW or North America has announced that it will no longer pursue branded entertainment opportunities. Since 2001, BMW Films has been at the forefront of this form of marketing. Not only has BMW been featured in James Bind films, but its online feature called “The Hire” was a smash hit with younger audiences, enough so that it spawned its very own comic book. Agencies and marketers alike have been climbing all over each other trying to recreate BMW’s success with branded entertainment. And now, they’ll have to do it without the champ, who’s retired the title.

The main reason for retirement: the money, silly. It seems that branded entertainment is getting too darn expensive. Sure, in 2001 it was new and sexy. But now that everyone is doing it, producers can charge an arm and a leg. Integration fees, it seems, are too becoming too much to bear. 13245
BMW can’t compete. The likes of Audi and and Toyota are accelerating the pace for deals in Hollywood, and more and more automakers are getting into the game. So BMW is getting out.

There’s no doubt that branded entertainment is seen as a panacea to marketers’ woes of fragmentation, diminished attention spans and the consumer’s whole-hearted aversion to marketing-as-usual. But can BMW’s exit from branded entertainment just a matter of cost, bureaucracy or personnel changes?

Perhaps it is a sign of things to come. When the company who practically invented the genre wants to jump ship — and a staid, conservative brand like Mercury is getting into it — doesn’t this seem like branded entertainment is about to jump the shark?

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