Purist Rejects Modern-Day Soap Operas

A new 30-minute piece of branded entertainment produced by the True Agency/New York for BET, titled “In Black,” is intended to forge a strong bond between African-American consumers and Infiniti. Some commentarians don’t buy it. In fact, Lewis Lazare of the Sun Times is trippin’.

That’s not entertainment
It’s a trend that’s with us now, but one that, frankly, chills us to the bone because of what it may portend.
We’re talking about the way more and more advertisers are doing less actual advertising, and more of what they politely refer to as “branded entertainment.”
Don’t be fooled though. That term is nothing more than a euphemism for programming that has been entirely produced by the advertiser rather than an independent production company. It’s programming that is cunningly designed to showcase — in a very softsell sort of way — a product rather than simply entertain or inform as most purebred programming does.
In other words, what we’re witnessing here is a trend that — played out to the fullest extent — could lead to deep-pocketed advertisers taking total control of the entertainment industry and deciding what gets offered to the consumer as entertainment. Consumers will have a say, thankfully, in whether this horrific scenario really catches on, because they can opt to watch or tune out.

It seems to me, so-called “independent production companies” make commercials everyday. Literally. And metaphorically.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.