Standing out in a market oversaturated with entertainment options is certainly a big challenge for a marketer to take on. Although this pressure may seem inhibiting, tension can actually be a motivator. When paired with a spark of inspiration, tension empowers marketing teams to push the creative boundaries and cut through the noise.
For this Marketer 411, creative leaders Andrew Almendras, VP Global Creative Marketing at IMAX, and Jeremy Schumann, Lead Global Brand Marketing, Strategy & Creative at Amazon Prime Video share their biggest creative challenges and how they drive creative that performs.
Q: What’s the biggest creative challenge your brand faces?
Jeremy Schumann: The biggest challenge in streaming is how to stand out when everybody looks, sounds, and offers a very similar service. Every streaming platform has similar messaging: “We offer the best TV shows and movies in one place/one app.”
As a strategist, I’m always asking my teams to think about how we drive attribution back to our service and brand while also helping people connect with our stories in a way that stands out. To start and approach that in a unique way we’re focusing on what challenges we can help solve for our consumers.
The customer challenge we’ve identified is that streaming has become a lot of hard work for what should be a relaxing couch activity. No one knows what to watch. We open and close 3-9 apps, scrolling and searching.
We want our creative to speak what role Prime Video can play in making this process easier and more fulfilling for consumers. Whether they’re choosing content included with Prime or adding on other streamers within Prime Video like Max, Paramount+, Starz, Showtime, and more to chase the shows they crave.
Andrew Almendras: IMAX sits in a unique ecosystem. We work with our studio partners, who also release their own products on streaming platforms. And we have exhibitions (theatres) that have multiple offerings, and we’re just one of them in their multiplex.
We release 50+ films a year, so we look at creative through a long-term lens and examine how we integrate ourselves (our brand) into those campaigns and stand out as a premium offering for consumers. On the other side of that, we are continuing to differentiate ourselves through every product we release.
Q: How do you ensure that your brand shows up in market according to your intentions?
Andrew Almendras: We’re a blue-chip brand, meaning we’re over 50 years old, and have a strong following that’s broadened over time. We started with institutions like museums and expanded to commercial, animation, horror, and music artists.
It’s easy when consumers know you for something, but it becomes difficult when you’re stretching your brand. There isn’t a perfect formula, and you test and learn, but what’s key is showing up in the places where consumers go.
Jeremy Schumann: Driving brand attribution is everything in our industry. Since you must sign up for Prime to access Prime Video, we’re proof of how entertainment can be the ultimate flywheel for business success. We were the first streamer to exclusively air professional sports with Thursday Night Football, and our first game ended up driving more Prime subscriptions than the last Prime Day.
Additionally, our offerings have expanded significantly, and we’ve positioned ourselves as not only a supplier for entertainment, from sports to hit movies to originals, but now we’re positioning ourselves to be an aggregator, where you can integrate other streaming services into Prime Video, simplifying the streaming experience.
The challenge is communicating all these offerings and attributing them back to us, so we have a whole team dedicated to driving brand attribution at every touchpoint.
Q: Tension can often lead to the best creative. How do you balance tension, and how does it lead to inspiring your best creative work?
Jeremy Schumann: Tension is a powerful catalyst for creative. It makes your creative stand out and can articulate the role your brand plays in culture and your consumer’s lives. For example, we’re leaning into the fact that the Streaming Wars has made streaming hard work for all of us, and we want to be “The One App to Unite Them All.”
We aim to connect fans from LOTR: The Rings of Power and Game of Thrones, The Boys and The Batman, Star Trek and Succession, to Yellowstone and Yellowjackets. There’s an additional layer of tension to get all these channel partners and traditionally “rival” shows to work together. But this inspired us to pull off breakout creative in broadcast and OOH that’s live in Times Square right now.
Andrew Almendras: Since we play such unique roles in our complex ecosystems, tension creates specificity. It forces you to be specific as to what problem you’re actually trying to solve. Every group you’re working with has their own priorities.
But the one thing that brings a smile to anyone’s face is creativity. Creativity can bring stakeholders together. Tensions break down when you have a piece of creative that responds to people’s emotions and what they’re looking to achieve.
Q: What have you done to stand out and cut through the noise?
Andrew Almendras: You know you are cutting through the noise if you can identify the value your brands product/service brings to consumers. Often, we look at creative and think it needs to be jaw-dropping, but with a concise brief, it simply needs to be an effective communications vehicle. You must show up where the consumers are.
If your creative is going to the wrong places, it’s ineffective. Consumers play a key role in getting your brands out there, so engage with them and give them the tools to socialize and create momentum. Word of mouth is the most powerful vehicle.
Jeremy Schumann: For us it’s all about exploring and experimenting new ways to break through, from putting these epic shows normally divided by the Streaming Wars together in creative, like Game of Thrones and Rings of Power, to experimenting on how we can bring brand and product together to give people a unique brand experience that doesn’t feel like marketing.
We’re placing a lot of bets from leveraging our X-Ray trivia feature to hide a secret scavenger hunt within all 25 James Bond Films to win a motorcycle from the movie and finding ways to go deeper into the show by reading the book, shopping the look, or listening to the soundtrack. Not every bet is a home run, but it’s important to keep learning and swinging for the fences.
Q: How do you create content at scale?
Andrew Almendras: There’s scalability and there’s also consistency. We want to ensure our creative isn’t diluted as it rolls out into the marketplace, and that it’s deeply rooted in the relationships we build. We help our partners understand the power of the brand, why they invested in it, and why they have a relationship with it—they are keen on maximizing the brand’s value and offering through cohesive creative that we produce.
We understand that it’s important to develop creative that can be global and local at the same time to ensure effectiveness with engaging consumers, and we embrace this. It’s all about producing a brand umbrella where we show up with the same level of credibility and brand equity no matter where in the world our consumers find us.
Jeremy Schumann: As much as you want to do a template, it needs to be able to stretch. When approaching global scale, start with the following:
- Are we all aligned on the same insight on the role our brand can play?
- Does this work in your market?
- Can the insight and the role our product plays flex into your culture?
- What are the most cohesive messages we can use together to solve that?
- Once we identify the core insight and role we play, we can be flexible on how it comes to life in a cohesive way.
💡Need some creative inspiration?
Jeremy’s go-to for inspiration is finding great case studies on Twitter. The two subjects that currently inspire him are the role AI can play in creative, such as an internet user leveraging AI to create a Balenciaga ad through the lens of Harry Potter– which now has more views than most of their marketing.
Jeremy is also inspired by the role of branded entertainment, with content that’s so good it doesn’t feel like an ad. His favorite example is Peacock and Duolingo’s latest April Fool’s stunt of a fake dating show where no one speaks the same language and need to use Duolingo to communicate with each other.
Andrew turns to artists like Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and Beyonce, who are living, breathing brands. And how, over time, their fans(customers) evolve with them and choose to be associated with them because of who they are on every level and how they show up in every aspect of their life.
This same philosophy applies to brands that offer a product and/or a service. Jeremy and Andrew agree that a strong awards-season speech can shift culture, perception, and mindset — that in itself is creativity on the largest stage and brightest spotlight.
The entertainment industry only continues growing, and creative inspiration surrounds us. What are things that naturally inspire you? How can you use that to fuel your Creative?
The 411 virtual events are hosted by Jennie Stark, the Senior Director of the MTM Program at 24 Seven. They are designed for Marketing Managers to bring value, direction, and inspiration to their teams from insightful conversations with top marketing leaders. Each event contains insights on different disciplines, such as what brands are focused on, leading teams, measuring success, and more.
About the Experts
Andrew Almendras, VP Global Creative Marketing at IMAX: Andrew Almendras is a brand architect, builder, and maximizer leveraging the power of creative to drive the full potential of brands. He has transformed businesses into global brands on the agency side and overhauled a global brand through marketing, advertising, operations, and creative. Andrew builds sustainable systems and teams that are scalable to grow businesses into consumer-relevant and revenue-driven brands that matter. He has accomplished this across various business sectors, including technology, entertainment, real estate, hospitality, CPG, sports, and attractions.
Jeremy Schumann, Lead Global Brand Marketing, Strategy & Creative at Amazon Prime Video: With an unconventional background working in addiction recovery in South America, design, and startup culture, Jeremy Schumann is an ambidextrous global marketer and strategist. He has great experience in forging brand and marketing campaigns to evolve the world’s most iconic brands, including Nike, IMAX, and The Grammys, to be continuously relevant today. Jeremy has also helped new age brands like Airbnb, Instagram, Uber Eats, and Amazon Prime Video define their role in the market, consumers’ lives, and culture at large. He uses his untraditional background and insatiable curiosity about people, culture, and motivation to constantly pioneer new ways to solve business problems or change the game entirely.
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