18 July, 2007

The Science Behind Co-Branding: A Satire

Elmo dolls at Build-a-Bear? Incredible Hulk Popsicles? Olson Twins Toothpaste?? Does this seem like a heaping dose of insanity to you? Well it's not, Pope Urban. It's called "co-branding." Co-branding is prevalent in all sectors of the marketplace, from Pillsbury cookies featuring M&Ms brand candies to Starbucks coffee service on United Airlines flights. But nowhere is it more ubiquitous than in the entertainment industry.

Entertainment properties from movies, television, and music are used to sell an enormous variety of products, from shoe polish to breakfast cereals. These pairings often make little sense on the surface, beyond being a convenient way to sell hair gel while advertising your latest video game. But I've looked a little deeper and found that, In truth, there is a strong ethic amongst researchers and marketers alike to create co-branded products that far exceed the standard single brand equivalents.

As a video editor, I take scientific validity issues in co-branded marketing campaigns very seriously. So I launched a rigorous, multi-phased, cross-media marketing analysis that lasted hours and took minutes to complete. Here are a few examples of the science behind co-branding.

Why has everything gone Shrek? It's not because he's adorable, funny or a highly bankable commodity. It's because he's green. Remember how popular Kermit was in the 70s, or Yoda in the early 80s?. In a recent double-blind study conducted in Massachusetts, students at the Perkins School for the Blind were more likely to say they preferred foods colored green over other colors even though the students have no concept of green, or colors in general. And this favoritism jumped 540 percent when the subjects were administered powerful electric shocks when touching the non-green food products! Interestingly, 540 nanometers is the frequency for green light. Coincidence?

Congress doesn't think so. Recent legislation requires automakers to build greener cars by 2012. Why green? Certain harmonics in the paint cut down on drag, making the cars more energy efficient. In fact, green energy initiatives are everywhere, due to the considerable power in green's 540 nanometer wavelength. But color is only one factor to consider when creating a superior product.

Another study conducted by field mice outside of Denver found a strong correlation between the shape of molded oat cereals and their nutritional efficacy. The study found that the web shape used in Spiderman Brand Cereal had the highest surface area to mass ratio of all breakfast cereals, causing a nearly instantaneous digestion and absorption of all 12 vitamins and minerals included as part of your complete breakfast. Cheerios? It ranked 54th, six spots lower than Lucky Charms and 12 spots lower than topsoil.

And what about that Olson Twins toothpaste? Two words: super spittle. The gorgeous duo owe their flawless smiles to a minor genetic anomaly that gives their saliva 10 times the cleansing power of any known substance. Toothpaste is only the logical jumping-off point. Soon Mary Kate and Ashley's drool will replace an entire generation of outmoded cleaning products.

I think I've made my point. The next time you're pondering a co-branded entertainment venture please don't let ridiculous mismatches in products and brands stop you. Just make sure the science is sound and everything else will take care of itself. Oh, and look for Jason Bloom brand spray cheese and drain cleaner, coming to a supermarket near you.

--Jason Bloom, Senior Avid Editor

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