2015 presented us with some great examples of leveraging entertainment brands in advertising. From a rough looking Marcia Brady to a unique Transformer made out of a house, the year was bursting with engaging and memorable campaigns. In case you missed it, check out our top 15 of 2015 here.

This time last year we posted our 8 Tips for 2015 (check it out here). We wrote about the need to entertain and engage viewers, who now have more power to avoid advertising than ever before. One year on, we feel that this is even more the case. The power continues to shift and it is now more important than ever to find a way to capture audiences and make them WANT to engage with the campaign rather than ignore it.

2015 also proved that we love to be entertained more than ever before. Global box office hit an all time high of US$38 billion, with 5 movies passing the US$1 billion mark for the first time in history. A further 8 films passed the US$500 million mark. Meanwhile Netflix have reportedly subscribed over 70 million users globally and expect to expand to 200 countries by the end of 2016. The way we consume content may have changed, but our desire to be entertained certainly hasn’t.

These trends makes it a no-brainer for advertisers and brands to tie in entertainment to their projects in one way or another. Here are our top 8 tips for brand licensing in advertising for 2016 in no particular order.

1. Tie in with Major Entertainment Events

At time of posting, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already smashed a number of records and will continue to do so throughout 2016. The title could possibly surpass Avatar as the #1 grossing movie in history. Naturally, brands were lining up to be a part of this event with branding product and campaigns. We counted 12 major advertising campaigns that aligned with the movie including Kraft, Duracell, HP, Google, Dodge, Subway, ToysRUs, Jeep, Verizon, ASDA and more.

We also saw brands align with James Bond’s Spectre last year, as they attempted to cash in on the hype surrounding the release.

In 2015 we saw brands celebrate an entertainment event that was not a theatrical or TV launch, but an event in a movie. We’re talking about ‘Back to the Future Day’, from the movie Back to the Future part 2. The significant date of 21 October 2015 was celebrated by a raft of huge brands including Toyota, Pepsi, Ford, Mercedes and Burger King.

2016 presents another solid slate of theatrical releases with the anticipated Zoolander 2, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Angry Birds Movie, X-Men Apocalypse, Warcraft, Finding Dory, Independence Day: Resurgence, Suicide Squad, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them and many many more. There will also be a number of major TV events such as the return of The X Files after 13 years off air.

The year is packed with entertainment events and we encourage advertisers to consider cleverly getting involved in the hype.

2. Anniversaries and Milestones

This featured on our list of tips for 2015 and cannot be ignored this year. Although we do realise that it may be painful for us to point out that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off turns 30 this year, and that it has in fact been a full decade since the first Cars movie. However these milestones are an opportunity to celebrate! The studios certainly will be, with anniversary themed memorabilia and hype.

Movie Milestones in 2016:

The Devil Wears Prada (10 years)
Happy Feet (10 years)
Cars (10 years)
Independence Day (20 years)
Jerry Maguire (20 years)
Romeo + Juliet (20 years)
Stand By Me (30 years)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (30 years)
Top Gun (30 years)
Carrie (40 years)
Rocky (40 years)
Taxi Driver (40 years)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly(50 years)
The King and I (60 years)

TV Milestones in 2016:

Dexter (10 years)
Heroes (10 years)
30 Rock (10 years)
Everybody Loves Raymond (20 years)
3rd Rock from the Sun (20 years)
Hey Arnold (20 years)
Matlock (30 years)
Alf (30 years)
L.A Law (30 years)
Charlie’s Angels (40 years)
Laverne & Shirley (40 years)
The Muppet Show (40 years)
Star Trek (50 years)
The Gumby Show (60 years)

3. Consider Childrens Brands for Grown Up Campaigns

Iconic childrens brands offer advertisers a unique opportunity to tap into the nostalgia of a specific demographic. We all have fond memories of brands we engaged with as children. Remember Noddy? Rugrats? Barney and Friends? American insurance provider Geico and their agency The Martin Agency did a great job at this last year, recruiting none other that Dora the Explorer for a clever campaign.

We’ve also seen Honda tap into classic kids brand Gumby.

4. Target Multiple Generations with Classic TV Brands

We often see campaigns leveraging iconic movies, but less so with classic TV shows. Our pick for campaign of the year last year was The Brady Bunch + Snickers spot, which creatively incorporated existing footage from the show with newly shot footage. Created by BBDO New York, there was a lot of very careful work that went into making it look quite seemless. You can see the efforts they went to here in the making of video.

More recently, Jenny Craig has tapped classic show Cheers for their latest campaign starring Kirstie Alley and other stars from the series.

5. Think Creatively about Toys and Games

When we talk about licensing brands for advertising, its easy for the first thought to go to movies and TV. We encourage advertisers to consider popular toys and gaming brands as well, which also offer a unique creative opportunity. Games like Monopoly and The Game of Life along with Toys like Trolls and Mr. Potato Head have high awareness and are broadly cherished by consumers.

Australian homebuilder Simonds Homes capitalised on this opportunity with their biggest campaign in their 65 year history in 2015. They developed a unique Transformer out of a house.

Another example of a Geico campaign from 2015 was with classic Hasbro game Operation, a family favourite.

6. Multiple Brands

Some of the best campaigns have featured more than one brand. In fact some have included over 20!

One of our favourites is Apple’s ‘Hello’ campaign, which was the very first iPhone commercial.

CP&B also delivered a great campaign for Metlife in 2012 which included over 75 characters in the 30 second spot.

Apple returned in 2014 with another well received campaign, this time for their MacBook.

7. Collaborate with Studios

No-one knows the brands more than the studios themselves. Collaborating with them ensures that the campaign leverages a brand as much as possible. They know the elements that can be included to score the best response from fans.

Additionally, bespoke animation is something that most studios offer with their brands. This is a great way to develop something truly unique and will generate a lot of excitement among fans.

8. Don’t Underestimate Apps and Gaming

The gaming category is a lot bigger than anyone gives it credit for.

Take apps for example. Clash of Clans has over 50 million active users. Angry Birds has been downloaded over 2 billion times. Candy Crush Saga generates approx. $750 million in revenue DAILY.

Console and PC gaming is also huge. Franchises like Minecraft, World of Warcraft, Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty have enormously loyal fanbases.

Classic gaming brands also have high awareness, and although they may not be ‘hot’ today, they can be quite nostalgic and have fans across many generations. Bud Light leveraged Pacman in 2015 in this popular Superbowl campaign.

So there you have it. We have no doubt that 2016 will present some smashing campaigns that tap into entertainment brands in one way or another. We’ll be blogging about these throughout the year. . . . so stay tuned!