Marketing & Advertising

Super-Serving Fans to Keep and Grow Audiences

Overview Experts in the intensely complex and competitive world of entertainment know how to capture and keep audiences. An elite panel sharing insights for marketers included MediaLink Chairman and CEO Michael Kassan, and Ann Sarnoff, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks group chair and CEO.

Overnight, the world of movies and entertainment became restricted to homes in 2020. In a time where we must be apart, marketers and content creators had to rethink and adapt to a content-saturated consumer market and find new ways to break through the noise and get to fans.

For Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, it is about “super-serving fans,” she said in her keynote address at CES® 2021. It is a lesson she learned from her work with Nickelodeon.

With so many brands trying to reach the same consumers, how are marketers achieving their goals?


Not Just a TV

The influence of films is no longer restricted to the screen.

“[Consumers and fans] have that thirst for content,” said Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO of MediaLink.

Sarnoff and the WarnerMedia team rose to the occasion, even despite social distancing restrictions of 2020, producing a 24-hour event called DC FanDome. The event allowed fans to connect with the talent and creators behind the DC world and even purchase merchandise.

“It’s really about engaging [fans] in a way that respected everything that they love about DC and [bringing] it to life in a new and different way,” Sarnoff said.

You can’t get to being purpose-driven unless you’re comfortable being uncomfortable.

Adrienne Lofton
Vice President, North America Marketing, NIKE

Telling Stories with Purpose

More than expanding the footprint, however, is a renewed focus on marketing with purpose — across industries — especially when societal circumstances and challenges are considered.

One example that General Motors Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl provided is Chevy Cares, the GM campaign that focused on what customers and the world needed, supporting cancer awareness, military support, equality and more. In 2020, the company also shifted operations to building ventilators.

“You can’t get to being purpose-driven unless you’re comfortable being uncomfortable,” added Adrienne Lofton, vice president of North America marketing, Nike. “Nike has never been afraid of leaning in and potentially making a mistake if it’s what we believe in. One of the values of the company has always been ‘do the right thing.’”

It is also important to allow fans and consumers to not just hear about the brand’s purpose but be a part of it. For The SpringHill Company, this means building a community around the brand mission.
Speaking about the company’s sports brand Uninterrupted, The SpringHill Company CEO Maverick Carter said, “it’s for athletes who really care and do more for the world, and for their team, and their people in their community, more than just being an athlete.”


Changing Marketing to Fit

As consumers change their engagement habits, and new platforms and services are developed, marketers must also think about what now measures success and what marketing now means.

“The job of the advertiser and the marketer is going to change from selling things to more engaging them and entertaining them, and keeping the consumer connected to their brand,” Carter said. “They now have to figure out how to connect with consumers in ways that weren’t thought about  ten or 15 years ago.”

In the world of film, the measure of success for marketing is no longer the number of theater-goers on opening weekend. Even in vehicle technology, with GM, marketing has had to evolve to just a presentation-style reveal of cars.

“We open up our whole purview of not what marketing was, but what marketing can be,” Wahl said.
“Of course, that raises the bar and that makes you think more creatively as to how you can go find your fans,” Sarnoff said.


On-demand programming from the all-digital CES 2021, including all keynote addresses, is now available for all to view. The industry-changing insights and announcements shared by tech visionaries at CES 2021 are key to the continued growth and advancement of your business and our tech ecosystem. With that in mind, we’ve opened the CES sessions to everyone.

Watch the Entertainment Transformed Keynote

What is entertainment going to look like post-pandemic? WarnerMedia chair and CEO answers this question, followed by a panel of marketers and brands sharing how they will write themselves into the narrative of entertainment transformed.

You May Also Be Interested In ...

Variety Explores the Future of Entertainment

Read more arrow-black

How TiVo Is Disrupting Entertainment and Putting Customers First

Read more arrow-black