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Monday, April 12, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon: Entertainment or Paid Advertisement?

How to Train Your Dragon: Entertainment or Paid Advertisement?

Dream Works newest animation feature, How to Train Your Dragon was released March 26, 2010. However, the merchandise hit the shelves weeks before. So were the toys, t-shirts, action figures, etc promoting the movie or was the movie produced to promote the newest line of products? Unlike other entertainment-marketing strategies, such as product placement, this marketing practice doesn’t focus on the entertainment, but uses the films as an excuse to sell products.

When did movies have do more than entertain? Walt Disney was not only a businessman before his time, but he was also a creative, innovator, who changed the animation and children’s programming as a whole. He knew how to create ground breaking entertainment, while still making a profit. Yet with Disney the focus was on the screen; the merchandising followed. The movies made during his time were not only successful at the time, but they have remained popular throughout the ages. The restoring to the original quality and updating to the current formats continue to make the classics profitable.

Although Disney was a pioneer with his animation, it was his ability to focus on storylines and characters is what made the movies that he produced classics.. It was also his marketing techniques for limited the exposure in films and later on tape or DVD that kept them financially profitable. The theme parks, toys and other merchandise was limited to the Disney brand and closely monitored to avoid over exposure. By avoiding blanket marketing, Disney was able to make sizable profits, while protecting the brand name of his films and the characters in them.

Entertainment marketing and product placement are misnomers. With entertainment marketing, such as has been done with How to Train Your Dragon and other such movies, the emphasis isn’t on the film, but selling the products related to the film. The difference with product placement, whether it be in film or television, the focus is on the entertainment with the products being used as props or part of the storyline. While the former is more often than not directed at children or tweens entertainment, the later is effective for all age groups and with all genres. In addition to being more versatile, product placement gives a real life feel to the entertainment, while showing the product in a positive light.

Another advantage to product placement is cost effectiveness. With entertainment marketing having a single brand to sell, the sales of the merchandise are directly connected to the success of the film or TV show. Product placement gives multiple opportunities to a variety of products and as long as each is presented favorably, the overall quality of the film will have no negative impact on the products.

Is How to Train Your Dragon and other such movies entertainment or a very long commercial, well directed commercial?

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