An investigation of brands leveraging entertainment


Ben Hubbard, Brand Partnerships Manager at Brand Culture, shares how leveraging entertainment can prove a powerful and innovative way for brands to connect with consumers.

During the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs 54th Super Bowl, a myriad of brands created advertising campaigns that capitalised on the moment.

This year, a number of brands have chosen to leverage IP and/or talent, tapping into consumers’ passion points as a way to cut through the (loudest of) noise…

Walmart & multiple

Retailer Walmart has scoured the IP catalogues for their Super Bowl effort – “Famous Visitors”. Promoting the ‘out-of-this-world convenience’ of the Walmart Pickup service, the brand has seemingly featured every current and evergreen character/spaceship in the known Universe picking up their groceries from the store.

Notable inclusions include the USS Enterprise from Star Trek, Guardians of the Galaxy, Flash Gordon, Buzz Lightyear, Frank the Pug from MIB, The Lego Movie, the aliens from Arrival, and even R2-D2 and C-3PO fresh off the Millennium Falcon, among a host of others!

The ad is a fantastic example of using IP in a clever way to convey a specific brand message, and would likely have cost all the money in the galaxy in IP fees too…

Pringles & Rick and Morty

The hit cartoon Rick & Morty provides brands with fertile ground for self-aware integrated campaigns. Pringles & Adult Swim have created a bespoke 30 second TV spot to encourage consumers to ‘Stack Pringles. Make endless flavours.’

The brand message is delivered in the typically post-modern tone Rick and Morty is known for: the ad opens with Summer asking “How much do you think Pringles paid these people?”, and Rick answering with a sigh “Hardly anything.”

Morty (a Pringles cyborg version) delivers Pringles message, before and Rick surmises “We are trapped in a Pringles commercial, they must have taken us in our sleep!” and other Morty cyborgs repeat the ‘Stack Pringles’ line to drive this home.

Audi & Maisie Williams (and Frozen)

Automotive giant Audi secured Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams (AKA Arya Stark, slayer of The Night King) to front their latest ad pushing the brand’s e-tron electric vehicles. Surrounded by petrol-fuelled traffic jam chaos, Maisie is driven to singing ‘Let It Go’ from Disney’s Frozen to encourage drivers towards a sustainable future.

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar & Bryan Cranston/The Shining

Soft drink brand Mountain Dew took a daring approach to promote their Zero Sugar SKU, with a campaign line that reads ‘As good as the original, maybe even better?’. What sets this ad apart though, is casting Bryan Cranston in a parody of Stephen King’s The Shining and the iconic axe-to-door scene. In Moutain Dew’s version, Cranston instead passes through the Zero Sugar drink, which Tracee Ellis Ross gratefully accepts.

Other examples:

  • Michelob ULTRA & Jimmy Fallon/John Cena – LINK
  • (Personal favourite) Amazon Alexa & Ellen DeGeneres – LINK
  • Rocket Mortgage & Jason Momoa – LINK

As these ads show, leveraging entertainment can prove a powerful and innovative way for brands to push their message(s) and cut through in crowded advertising space, even in the cacophony of the Super Bowl ad space.

At Brand Culture we specialise in this space, delivering campaigns that effectively use entertainment and lifestyle IP (invariably without the price tag!) to drive brand objectives.

Get in touch with our Partnerships Director Tom Sugg to find out what we can do for you.