Programme–ad congruence: integrating advertising and entertainment

Susan D. Myers

University of Central Arkansas

Marla B. Royne and George Deitz

University of Memphis

Introduction

Many powerful brands have recognised that advertising is changing. Former Coca-Cola president and COO, Steven Heyer, commented that his company is headed towards ‘ideas that bring entertainment value to our brands, and ideas that integrate our brands into entertainment’ (Aitchison 2004). This new way of thinking about the brand message seems to lend itself to entertainment-dependent practices such as product placement and branded entertainment, but with $72 billion spent on television commercials in 2011 (Nielsen 2012), the capacity to integrate the entertainment into traditional commercials represents a vast opportunity. Take one example from the 2010 season of American Idol. Every episode included several Ford Focus commercials featuring the previous season’s American Idol, Kris Allen. These ads were not created specifically for the show; they were aired at various times during other programmes and on other networks. Yet the use of this celebrity in this manner is no more coincidental than Chick-fil-a airing advertisements featuring cows parachuting onto a football field during an NFL game, or seeing Jon Hamm or John Slattery advertise for a luxury car during an episode of Mad Men. If not coincidence, however, then what is it? It is just one example of how brands are integrating their message with the entertainment media.