Branded content is probably the most difficult-to-pin-down flavor of stealth advertising. Branded content, also known as branded entertainment, is generally easier to define by negation: no, branded content is not the same thing as product placement, though sometimes product placement is part of it. Branded content also isn’t the same as sponsorship, though that’s nearer to the mark.

Basically, branded content is what happens when a brand gets intimately involved in the production of some form of entertainment. A good example is when Macy’s created a Christmas TV special.

Though Macy’s is featured in this show, that’s not the point – Macy’s goal was more for you to associate itself with a magical Christmas story, trying to build up the positive associations between you, the viewer, and the Macy’s brand.

That’s not to say that branded content can’t take a more commercial form. For example, the toy train company Lionel decided to up its sales with an animated movie heavily featuring Lionel trains rather than an advertisement. Lionel trains were then sold with the DVD of Lionville the movie.

But examples of branded content truly run the gamut, sometimes only loosely or at least more subtly tied to the brand that created them. Australian web series, “6 Beers of Separation,” is a reality show about young Australians trying to meet their heroes and make it big. The campaign was launched by Lion Nathan, an Australasian alcohol company, to promote Tooheys Extra Dry beer.

As these few examples show, each work of branded entertainment is different in style, form, strength of association with the brand, and the role it plays in promoting the brand. The underlying connection is that each example is produced by the brand, so it is meant — in some small or large way — to promote the brand that brought it into being. That’s why no matter what it looks like, branded entertainment is a form of stealth advertising.

Jess Kloss has 8 post(s) on Sneak Adtack