Risky Business Using Movie Characters In Ads?

Risky Business Using Movie Characters In Ads?

There’s a lot of brands out there under the guise partnering with a movie franchise and its famous characters is riskier than slapping the brand on a sports team. At least, that’s what Craig Harkness, marketing manager for V Energy, has said he’s seen.

Emma Mackenzie
Posted by Emma Mackenzie

He told B&T there’s not many brands using the cachet of established characters. His comments come off the back of the energy drink’s new campaign from Clemenger BBDO that uses X-Men’s Quicksilver character, played by Evan Peters. Watch the ad at the end.

But Harness believed many perceived using movie characters as brand ambassadors comes with risk, as they think the audience is going to be different.

“Certainly in Australia, we’re much more risk averse,” he said. “I think people are much more willing to partner their brands with sporting properties – State of Origin for example. I could reel off millions of brands that partner with sporting properties in Australia and not so many who do anything with movies.

“If you think of the franchise model that Marvel have created with Disney and with Fox – and other franchises like Harry Potter and James Bond – those have a bankability that you always know are going to get your audience.

“They’re as predictable in terms of their audience as a tournament is. And I think sometimes people think the movies aren’t going to be, but if you look at the people who spend the money in the first weekend of a movie release, you’ve got a great audience.”

He did note though partnering with a new movie with no history has more risk attached.

Still, teaming with sports teams too is not risk free, as the recent Maria Sharapova drug revelation showed and Essendon’s scandal last year.

David Born, director of entertainment brand licensing company Born Licensing, agreed there’s elements of risk with any brand alignment.

“There are some very high profile examples of sports stars and teams getting into mischief which has subsequently forced brands to disassociate themselves and ditch large scale marketing plans,” he said.

“Additionally if we are talking specifically about a sporting team, we know that fans love to hate teams other than their own so an alignment with one team is alienating a huge portion of consumers. A movie on the other hand is a much safer bet, where the demographic is clear and the appeal is much broader.

“Taking a punt with a new character or movie can attract a higher risk but the reward potential is also higher as usually there are less partners on board, which makes the brand alignment a more unique offering for consumers.

“Partnering with an existing movie, TV or animation brand can offer even less risk again, as there is no question of their success or brand awareness. Classic movies, well known animation characters and iconic TV shows have proven to be very popular for brand alignments from all over the world for this reason.”

Harkness noted too when it’s just the character aligning with a brand, it’s easier to predict their behaviour. There’s been numerous brand ambassadors that have buggered up their contracts with their behaviour.

We had asked for behind-the-scenes imagery of the latest V Energy campaign, but Harkness hesitated, as behind-the-scenes images of Evan Peters holding the can of V would mean it’s Peters, not the character Quicksilver. And Harkness said it was critical to remain the ambassadorship to Quicksilver as a character, not Peters.