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Advertainment is a term used to reflect the intertwining relationships between advertising and entertainment. Typically it refers to a form of communication that combines various forms of entertainment[1] (television, movies, songs, etc.) with elements of advertising to promote products or brands.[2] An example would be product placement in a film. The word is a portmanteau of the advertising and entertainment.


Marketers' approach to using entertainment content to promote their products dates back to the use of branded products in motion pictures. This practice was variously termed “publicity by motion picture”, “co-operative advertising”, “tie in advertising” and “tradeouts", or even “exploitation”. It represented a cooperative venture between a media maker and a manufacturer, in which on-screen exposure of a product, off-screen endorsement by an actor, or a combination of those were traded for paid advertising and unpaid promotions by the manufacturer.[3] Often products were offered rent free in return for publicity stills for use in manufacturers’ advertising.[4]

Products or brands were sponsoring radio in the 1930s and in television in the 1950s such as “The Colgate Comedy Hour”. This method faded as marketers wanted to advertise to broader markets. Then it resurged after the placement of Reese’s Pieces to attract the alien in the 1982 hit movie E.T. The success of the movie and the placement led to an increase in awareness of the brand as well as sales.[5] The increasing popularity of using this method of integrated advertising has developed in recent years as a way to counter technological advances. Consumers have the ability to avoid such messaging through the commercial skipping feature applied in some Digital Video Recorders (DVR) or simply by switching channels. This has fuelled the growth of advertainment exponentially in recent years.[6] See the Windows Surface placement on NCIS, that shows convenience and features.


“A direct consequence of the increased popularity of advertainment is the boom of a specialized product placement industry,”.[7] Product placement has become an institutionalized industry, as evidenced by the creation of professional associations. The Entertainment Marketing Association (EMA) is made up of placement agents, marketers and studio representatives. The professional associations are relatively new and consist of different types of agencies that range in type and sizes. These agencies also vary in the ways companies and studios deal with product placement.[8]

The production side

Consists of the producers of the entertainment media (TV, movie and music studios, etc.) Scripts are sent to the clients, who are “legally required to use these brands in their scenes, either directly or through the intermediary of product placement agencies,”.[9] This averages to about 100-150 brands that need permissions for product placement. The decision to include a product may depend on the director, actor or producer as well as whether the product is necessary to the plot of the story. Although this is not the main reason product are placed, the main reason being for monetary reason. However the limitation to simply sending products to be placed in movies/shows is the lack of control on how the products will be used or placed. The potential infringement of creative and artistic freedom when there are more products placed on set. In 2005, the television writers protested during Advertising week demanding more input and profit with and from product placement deals.[10]

The agency side

This area serves as a middleman to the production and client sides, acting as agents. The focus in this side is strictly monetary and usually starts as “prop masters” who take advantage of the business opportunity.[11]

Strategic Considerations[edit]

Some marketing managers or those responsible for advertainment are treating it more as a communication component rather than as a tactical tool to promote a product and gain the public’s acceptance and trust of the product. Perhaps, a reason for the careless use of strategy in the advertainment process is because those responsible for the integration of the product have lost the sense of purpose for promotion and brand management of the product, which is needed in order to achieve consumers’ acceptance and adequate integration in the communication process.[12][13][14][15]

The potential and successful role of advertainment is dependent on the successful integration of the product within the entertainment content. In many instances, strategic marketing management or advertainment experts take advantage of the benefits implied of having a particular product been endorsed or associated with a celebrity or even a movie/cartoon character. Redbull has been successful in creating marketing campaigns that go above and beyond. Careful consideration must be given to the product intended to be promoted and the celebrity/character associated with the product. Not every celebrity is suited for every product and not every product is suited for advertainment purposes.[16][17][18][19]

In the beginning of advertainment, it was much easier to close on placement deals because they were considered “value-added propositions” and most importantly were free. In today’s world, successful advertainment is more elaborate and requires numerous hours of work and planning as well as experts in the promotion, advertainment, entertainment and communication industries. Having products endorsed by celebrities and characters is quite expensive for companies and there is no guarantee on how consumers will react to it. This process makes advertainment in present days a very costly process. However, when advertainment achieves its goal and Return on Investment (ROI) is as desired or better, the initial cost pays for itself, thus, it is crucial to find the right fit between celebrity/character and product been advertised.[20][21][22][23]

Advertainment is not only used for marketing purposes and product placement to gain customers and improve sales of a particular product. Advertainment can also have other roles in society; it can be used to communicate messages of social welfare. Take for example a campaign to promote healthy habits among teens to prevent drug usage and decrease the spread of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) among this population and future generations. This type of advertainment is known as edutainment.[24][25]

Legal Considerations[edit]

There are no clear-cut regulations surrounding advertainment.[26][27][28] However, there are antiquated sponsorship disclosure laws that can be loosely applied from the Radio Act of 1927,[29][30] where radio broadcasters were required to identify the sponsors of their programs. There are additional regulations in Section 317 of the 1934 Communications Act,[31] where broadcasters are required to disclose any “service or other valuable consideration” that is “directly or indirectly paid, or promised to or charged or accepted by” those producing the program, unless the consideration was offered free of charge. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has also ruled that on-screen disclosure “should be” in the end credits, but this is rarely enforced.[32] The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has regulations surrounding deceptive advertising, but they also claim advertainment “does not make ‘objective claims’ about a product”,[33] so the rules do not apply. Despite accusations of subliminal advertising and the negative connotations therein, there are no specific regulations regarding subliminal advertising in radio, television or movie production. Several consumer groups have advocated for stronger regulation, however no new regulations have been passed.

Ethical Considerations[edit]

Consumer Perspective

Advertainment has been compared to subliminal messaging in advertising. Consumer advocacy groups argue that advertainment is deceptive due in part because it can be so subtle that sometimes consumers do not even recognize the fact they have just viewed a commercial. These groups assert that if the advertisement is that subtle, it may be difficult to determine if the program or movie is entertainment or commercial advertising, and it may cause consumers to “engage in purchase behavior”.[34][35] Consumer sovereignty is a consideration as well; as these advocates believe the consumer’s “ability to make an informed purchase decision is at risk”.[36] Also, where highly regulated or illegal products are concerned, these groups assert that advertainment can “serve to bypass government or self-imposed industry regulations”.[37] Some believe advertainment may even border on subliminal advertising,[38] which is highly controversial. Where children are concerned, many parents believe the idea of explicit advertainment is unfair.[39] Again referring to consumer sovereignty, the target audience is perceived as vulnerable, unable to make informed decisions on their own, and therefore advertainment in children’s programming can be perceived as particularly deceptive. Despite this, the FTC has ruled that children are no different than adults in perception, and advertainment in children’s programming does not violate any regulations.[40] Parents have been increasingly vocal about advertainment in children’s movies and programs, arguing that children do not have the understanding that adults do regarding the product that their favorite star is using. A proposed solution is for advertisers or producers of children’s programming to openly state when a show contains embedded advertisement, much like a ratings system. Parents would then be alerted to the presence of implicit or explicit advertising, and be able to make an informed decision about allowing their children to watch the program or movie.[41] In fact, transparency seems to be the underlying issue regarding both ethical and legal aspects of advertainment; the broadly accepted solution to the ethical dilemma is overwhelmingly disclosure of embedded advertainment to viewers.

Advertiser Perspective

With the increase in DVR use and on-demand services like Hulu and Netflix, many advertisers believe advertainment is their only option as viewers fast forward through previously-recorded commercials. A well-placed product during a heavily watched television program can bring as much if not more advertising dollars and may be the only way to reach customers if commercials are skipped. Gupta and Gould found that overall, attitudes toward advertainment and product placement are generally favorable among viewers.[42] The effectiveness appears to increase the more covert the advertisement, and acceptance varies by category, particularly with “sin products” like cigarettes, junk food, and alcohol.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reference 2
  2. ^ Reference 1
  3. ^ Reference 1
  4. ^ Reference 1
  5. ^ Reference 1
  6. ^ Reference 3,4
  7. ^ Reference 1, page 8
  8. ^ Reference 1
  9. ^ Reference 1,page 8
  10. ^ Reference 1
  11. ^ Reference 1
  12. ^ Reference1
  13. ^ Reference 5
  14. ^ Reference 6
  15. ^ Reference 7
  16. ^ Reference 1
  17. ^ Reference 6
  18. ^ Reference 7
  19. ^ Reference 8
  20. ^ Reference 1
  21. ^ Reference 9
  22. ^ Reference 10
  23. ^ Reference 11
  24. ^ Reference 1
  25. ^ Reference 9
  26. ^ Reference 1
  27. ^ Reference 12
  28. ^ Reference 13
  29. ^ Reference 14
  30. ^ Reference 15
  31. ^ Reference 14
  32. ^ Reference 1
  33. ^ Reference 1
  34. ^ Reference 16
  35. ^ Reference 17
  36. ^ Reference 16
  37. ^ Reference 1
  38. ^ Reference 16
  39. ^ Reference 17
  40. ^ Reference 17
  41. ^ Reference 17
  42. ^ Reference 17

1. Russel, C.A. "Advertainment: Fusing Advertising and Entertainment." Michigan: Yaffe Center, 2007.


3. Jump up ^ Fields, Tim; Cotton, Brandon (2011-12-12). Social Game Design: Monetization Methods and Mechanics. Taylor & Francis. pp. 163–. ISBN 9780240817668. Retrieved 6 December 2013.

4. Millili, Judy (2012) A Generational Analysis: Exploring the Effectiveness of Advertainment Marketing Techniques on Consumers. 8-9

5. Russell, C. & M. Belch (2005), “A Managerial Investigation into the Product Placement Industry,” Journal of Advertising Research, 45 (1), 73-92.

6. Graser, M. & T. L. Stanley (2005), “Lessons From Madison & Vine,” Advertising Age, 76(40).

7. Fruitkin, A. (2006), “ Advanced Placement,” Adweek, 48 (18), SR4.

8. Stilson, J, (2007), “Talk to the BRAND,” Adweek, 48(12).

9. Singhal, A. and Rogers, E. M. (2002), “A Theoretical Agenda for Entertainment- Education,” Communication Theory, 117-135.

10. Fitzgerald, K. (2003) “Growing Pains for Placements,” Advertising Age 74 (5).

11. Friedman, M. (1985), “The Changing Language of a Consumer Society: Brand Name Usage in Popular American Novels in the Postwar Era,” Journal of Consumer Research, 11, 927-938.

12. Cornell University Law School. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2015, from 47 U.S. Code § 317 - Announcement of payment for broadcast:

13. Cristel Antonia Russell, P. (2007). Advertainment: Fusing Advertising and Entertainment. University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, Yaffe Center.

14. Goodman, M. (2001). The radio act of 1927: progressive ideology, epistemology, and praxis. Communication Abstracts, 28(3), 25-26.

15. Gupta, P. B., & Gould, S. J. (1997). Consumers' Perceptions of the Ethics and Acceptability of Product Placements in Movies: Product Category and Individual Differences. Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 19(1), 37-50.

16. Hackley, C., Tiwsakul, R. A., & Preuss, L. (2008). An ethical evaluation of product placement: a deceptive practice? Business Ethics: A European Review, 17(2), 109-120.

17. Hudson, S., Hudson, D., & Peloza, J. (2008). Meet the Parents: A Parents' Perspective on Product Placement in Children's Films. Journal of Business Ethics, 80, 289-304.