Guest Article By: Carmen Mallia
With the recent release of The Lego Batman Movie on Digital HD, available through Amazon Video and iTunes, I think it is important to pay homage to such a spectacular example of branded content.
The film is a spin-off instalment to The Lego Movie, released in 2014, with the plot centered around DC Comic’s renowned Batman character who tries to save Gotham City from the Joker’s latest cynical plan. Doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary, right? Well that would be true, but the whole movie is basically one long LEGO ad.
Here, we have two of the biggest corporate entities in the global economy: The Lego Group and Warner Brothers Entertainment, aligning their respective products in order to cross-promote each other and to create an enormously successful contemporary cultural product.
With LEGO cross promoting their brand through Warner Brothers, the company has created an entire movie franchise centered around product placement. Most viewers may not consider the fact that they are watching one long LEGO commercial since the movie is entirely focused on the iconic story of Batman. LEGO simply attaches themselves with the benevolent aura and good connotations that go hand-in-hand with the Caped Crusader. That being said, LEGO has mastered branded content.
Companies have been sponsoring programs since the early days of radio, but the notion of ‘branded content’ takes the idea a step further — instead of just financing the program companies (such as LEGO) actually create the program.
Consumer goods corporation Procter and Gamble was one of the first companies to sponsor radio and television programs in the 1930s, initiating the idea of branded content. With a focus on bringing families together, P&G created the perfect platform for brand messaging through their award-winning soap operas, movies, and mini-series that focused on the good connotation that their products bring to families. While P&G invented effective branded content through the fusion of soap operas and consumer products, it was The Lego Batman Movie that perfected the idea by merging a children’s toy with a celebrated superhero icon.
One advantage of creating their own film rather than sponsoring a pre-existing Batman movie is that LEGO is able to craft the content in order to showcases their brand.
For example, the movie is centered around teamwork, changing the entire landscape of the Batman franchise by taking a light-hearted, comedic approach to the DC superhero story.
This fresh take on Gotham City only means more possibilities for Warner Brothers and LEGO.
Through The LEGO Batman Movie, Bruce Wayne exists in his own unique world, although he is still part of the larger franchise. This film is definitely at odds with the general atmosphere and story plot of Christopher Nolan’s dark and psychologically enchanting Batman trilogy, although LEGO’s spin on the series is still fresh, funny, and fast paced.
The LEGO Group is a brand that maintains relevance within its youth-oriented target audience because of the toy companies’ ability to effectively create content. It is a venture that continues to innovate so that it can keep growing its revenue and brand value, making it no surprise that LEGO replaced Ferrari as Brand Finance’s “world’s most powerful brand”
With modern day advertising becoming so layered and complex, The LEGO Batman Movie has successfully created branded content by integrating with the Batman franchise and opening up a new fanbase for generations to come.
It is the perfect fusion of product placement and art.
Carmen Mallia is a professional freelance writer from Toronto. He is currently going into his third year at the University of Western Ontario for Honor’s Specialization in Media and the Public Interest with a Minor in Writing. In his spare time Carmen loves to workout, get a coffee with friends, volunteer at local events, and binge-watch Adult Swim series. He is currently putting together a multimedia journalistic company with some friends. Follow Carmen on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram