What’s Next For Entertainment Marketing

By Paul Talbot, Forbes

At the Nashville-based entertainment marketing agency FlyteVu, cofounder Laura Hutfless has a box seat for the shift from physical to digital campaign execution. I recently asked her to share her thoughts on these changes.

Paul Talbot: What sort of significant entertainment marketing innovations has the pandemic triggered?

Laura Hutfless: Simply put, the pandemic accelerated the industry’s journey to digital and innovative tech solutions. The industry has quickly adopted livestreaming, augmented reality, virtual reality, virtual meet and greets and more. The shift was always inevitable, but Covid has officially transported the industry to a digital-first economy.

 Can we gauge to what extent the Covid pandemic has put the brakes on entertainment marketing?

Traditional forms of marketing are not delivering the same results due to shifts in content consumption and the obstacles presented by experiential marketing. Brands are looking for innovative ways to reach consumers. The Covid pandemic has poured gasoline on entertainment marketing, as brands are turning to it as a solution. 

The entertainment industry has quickly shifted to virtual offerings that reach millions upon millions of fans who are passionate and loyal. Brands have recognized this opportunity, and forward-focused brands are shifting spends to align with relevant voices (talent, artists, influencers) who have engaged followings.

 Activation challenges aside, has the pandemic altered the basic value proposition of a relationship between brands, music and entertainment?

 Artists, talent and more importantly, brands, are willing to take risks, try new technology platforms and engage with innovative partners who have the capabilities and following to help them reach consumers/fans in a new way.  

Artists have lost revenue from touring due to the pandemic and are looking for opportunities to stay relevant and use their creative talents.  We’ve found that the cost/fee structure has now shifted to a value-trade. Brands who create experiences, stream content, or distribute content like Fortnite, Twitch and TikTok are able to align with creators and entertainers by providing value and tools for them to reach new fans.  

The artists who recognize the need to engage on these platforms and invest the time to develop followings while they are off the road are the ones who will find the most success in the long run.

 With venues shuttered and artists embracing new ways of connecting with their audiences, how are the brands which value entertainment marketing making similar adjustments?

All brands are turning to virtual solutions. For our philanthropic clients, we’ve hosted virtual galas with performances by A-list stars to continue fundraising efforts.

For Carter’s, a children’s and baby apparel brand, we hosted a virtual baby shower hosted by Kelly Clarkson for moms who missed their showers due to Covid. Bumble promoted virtual dating and chat functions, connecting celebrities with consumers. A brand first needs to understand the needs of their consumers during this unprecedented time and fill that need. Stop selling products; start selling solutions. 

 When we look back on the year 2020 and are able to put changes into perspective, what do you think some of the noteworthy observations will be?

 When we look back on 2020, we’ll recognize that it was a pivotal year that separated the industry’s innovators from the coasters. 

This year has made way for new, innovative and optimistic leaders to rise who will carry this industry forward over the next decade, who aren’t afraid to take risks, fail fast, learn and grow.

Power shifted from major industry giants to the small, innovative teams who could route a new course and adapt quickly.

 Any other insights on entertainment marketing you’d like to share?

 Brands are no longer resigned to the role of a passenger on the culture bus, they have an opportunity to step into the driver’s seat and affect change. There is a unique opportunity to unite pop culture, advocacy/philanthropy and brand and we’re seeing that come together now more than ever. 

Consumers buy from brands who align with their beliefs and values. Brands who stand for integrity and trust will be more effective in reaching consumers and will earn respect in the long game.

 or LinkedIn. Check out my website. 

Minus strategy marketing staggers. I am a somewhat reformed ex-media business executive, with tours of duty at AOL, CBS Radio, and Nationwide Communications. I’m a fan


Billy Porter to join New Year’s Eve show from Times Square

Associated Press – Last New Year’s Eve, Billy Porter was working in New Orleans. This year he’ll still be working — but in New York City.

The “Pose” star will join Ryan Seacrest and Lucy Hale on ABC in Times Square on Dec. 31 for Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020.” The broadcast is closed to the public due to the pandemic.

“2020 has been a trying year for the world and I’m thrilled to have Billy and Lucy join me in ushering in a new year with fresh beginnings,” said Seacrest in a statement. “We look forward to making sure it’s a night for everyone to remember.”

Porter made his debut on the program last year, taking over from Hale as co-host in New Orleans and performing several songs. As with last year, Ciara will once again oversee the Los Angeles festivities.

Last year, Porter became the first openly gay man to win an Emmy Award for best actor in a drama series for his role in “Pose.” He also has a Grammy and a Tony for his work on the musical “Kinky Boots.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda will write the music for Disney’s ‘Encanto’

(CNN) — Lin-Manuel Miranda has signed on to write the music for Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new animated feature “Encanto.”

“Encanto takes you to Colombia, where a magical family live in a magical home,” Disney announced on Twitter.

The story centers on young girl whose family possesses special powers but she does not.

The musical will feature songs in both Spanish and English and will be released in theaters in November 2021. It will be Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 60th animated film.

“Encanto” is the latest collaboration from “Zootopia” directors Byron Howard and Jared Bush, co-written and co-directed by Charise Castro Smith.

Miranda last worked with Disney for 2019’s “Marry Poppins Returns.” The “Hamilton” creator and Broadway superstar also wrote the hit songs for “Moana,” and won an Oscar for the song “How Far I’ll Go.”

Director Spike Lee changes direction with musical about Viagra

FILE PHOTO: Director Spike Lee, wearing a coat with the number 24 in memory of NBA player Kobe Bryant, poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Director Spike Lee, best known for making movies about the experience of being Black in America, is switching course with a musical – on the subject of Viagra.

Lee will direct the as-yet-untitled film from a screenplay he has co-written about the discovery and launch of the erectile dysfunction drug. It is based on a 2018 article in Esquire magazine called “All Rise,” producers said on Tuesday.

Original songs and music will be written by the duo behind the 2008 Tony-award winning rock musical “Passing Strange,” about a Black artist’s journey of self discovery.

The 63-year-old Brooklyn native said in a statement that he had grown up hating musicals despite the efforts of his mother. “Finally Going Into My 4th Decade As A Filmmaker I Will Be Directing A DANCIN’, ALL SINGIN’ MUSICAL,” he added.

Lee also directed a movie musical in 1988 called “School Daze.”

Pfizer Inc’s Viagra, first marketed in 1998, was originally developed as a potential treatment for heart-related chest pain.

Lee won his first Oscar in 2019 for the screenplay of Ku Klux Klan satire “BlacKkKlansman.” His more than 50 movies and documentaries include classics such as “Do the Right Thing,” “Malcolm X” and this year’s Vietnam War survivor drama “Da 5 Bloods.”

Ladies’ night at Latin Grammys: Lafourcade, Rosalía win big

By MESFIN FEKADU, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A year after Rosalía made history by becoming the first solo female performer in 13 years to win the top prize at the Latin Grammys, Natalia Lafourcade followed in her footsteps with a big win at the 2020 show.

The Mexican singer won album of the year — a category dominated by male acts — on Thursday night with “Un Canto Por México, Vol. 1.” Lafourcade won three awards at the show, tying Rosalía and Carlos Vives for most wins.

Lafourcade didn’t attend the Latin Grammys, which aired live on Univision and featured a number of performances, most of them pre-taped due to the coronavirus pandemic. The show did not have a live audience or a red carpet, and some of the performances featured band members and dancers sporting masks as they entertained onstage.

Lafourcade’s wins included best alternative song for “En Cantos,” her collaboration with iLe, and best regional song for “Mi Religión.” Rosalía won her awards during the pre-telecast, including best urban song and best urban fusion performance for the hit “Yo X Ti, Tu X Mi,” sharing both wins with her song’s co-star, Ozuna. She also won best short form music video for “TKN,” which features Travis Scott and helped the rapper win a Latin Grammy before winning a traditional Grammy.

Before Rosalía’s win for album of the year, Shakira was the last solo female to win the prize in 2006 with “Fijación Oral Vol. 1.”

Residente — the most decorated act in the history of the Latin Grammys — continued his winning streak by taking home song of the year for “René” and best rap/hip-hop song for “Antes Que El Mundo Se Acabe.” Fito Páez was also a double winner Thursday.

But the acts poised to make history after receiving 13 and nine nominations each — J Balvin and Bad Bunny — both walked away with just one win. Bad Bunny won best reggaeton performance for “Yo Perreo Sola” and Balvin picked up best urban music album for “Colores.”

Despite his 13 nominations, Balvin only had a chance of winning eight honors since he competed against himself in multiple categories. Bad Bunny had a similar issue at the show.

Balvin was a winner onstage, though.

Before his performance, footage of current events such as the Black Lives Matter protests – including an image of George Floyd — and more appeared onscreen. Balvin began performing his song “Rojo” (“Red”) under two large praying hands in a white suit, ending the song with fake blood running down his hands and clothes.

Pitbull also moved the needle with his performance, where he was joined by frontline workers onstage – some playing guitar, some singing background, one on drums. Together, they performed “I Believe That We Will Win” (World Anthem),” an upbeat song Pitbull released earlier this year during the pandemic to inspire others.

“They dreamed of being rock stars playing full stadiums, they represent a large group of individuals all around the world who day after day sacrifice their lives for a safer world,” Pitbull said. “We gonna live it tonight.”

“WE WILL WIN” appeared onscreen behind the performers at the end of the song as Pitbull saluted the musicians.

Karol G — who was nominated for four awards but walked away empty handed — performed alongside classical musicians to give a new edge to her global hit “Tusa,” which features Nicki Minaj rapping in Spanish and English. Karol G shout-outed the rapper during the performance.

Karol G’s fiance, Puerto Rican rapper-singer Anuel AA, had seven nominations but didn’t win a single award. He lost best new artist to Colombian singer Mike Bahía.

Grammy, Emmy and Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda kicked off the Latin Grammys with a strong message about Latin music. Speaking in Spanish and English, he said Latin music “unites all of us and makes us human.”

“This is our night,” he added.

That was followed by an all-star performance featuring Ricardo Montaner, Victor Manuelle, Jesús Navarro, Ivy Queen, Rauw Alejandro and Sergio George.

Other winners Thursday included Alejandro Sanz, who won record of the year for a second consecutive time thanks to “Contigo,” his tribute song to Joaquín Sabina; Ricky Martin won best pop vocal album for “Pausa”; and Chiquis — the daughter of late singer Jenni Rivera — won best banda album with “Playlist.”

The Latin Grammys was hosted by Oscar-nominated actor Yalitza Aparicio, actor-singer Ana Brenda Contreras and salsa singer Victor Manuelle, who replaced singer Carlos Rivera after he said he was exposed to the coronavirus.


Associated Press Writer Sigal Ratner-Arias contributed to this report.


Cardi B, Dolly Parton, Dua Lipa to be honored by Billboard

By MESFIN FEKADU, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Cardi B has only released one major single this year — the hit “WAP” — but it’s enough for Billboard to name her Woman of the Year.

Billboard announced the honor Wednesday and the Grammy-winning rapper will be celebrated at the music brand’s 15th Annual Women in Music Event, which will stream live on Dec. 10 at billboardwomeninmusic.com at 8 p.m. EDT.

Jennifer Lopez will receive the Icon Award at the event and Dolly Parton will earn the Powerhouse Award. Other honorees include pop star Dua Lipa (Powerhouse Award), R&B sister duo Chloe x Halle (Rising Star Award) and singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez (Impact Award). Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas of Atlantic Records — who led #TheShowMustBePaused campaign in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery earlier this year — will receive the Executive of the Year Award.

Outside of “WAP” — which co-stars Megan Thee Stallion and spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart — this year Cardi B appeared on K-pop girl group BLACKPINK’s “Bet You Wanna” and Brazilian singer Anitta’s “Me Gusta”; she jumped on the remix for the Latin trap track “La Bebe”with Anuel AA, Black Jonas Point, Secreto and Liro Shaq; and her rant about the coronavirus was remixed by iMarkkeyz and became a social media smash, even charting on Billboard’s rap and R&B digital songs sales chart.

Gucci, Gus Van Sant challenge fashion cycle with film collab

By COLLEEN BARRY, Associated Press

MILAN (AP) — Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele has been looking to transcend the runway show, and the coronavirus pandemic has provided an apt moment. 

Michele teamed up with American film director Gus Van Sant to create a seven-part miniseries revealing Gucci’s latest collection, titled “Ouverture.” The videos will be trickled out a day at a time starting Monday in the format of a virtual film festival and following the addictive pattern of streaming services. 

Film and fashion have a long relationship, and Gucci is not the first fashion house to team up with a filmmaker, even during the pandemic. Ferragamo presented a film by Luca Guadagnino, the Italian director of “Call Me By Your Name” as the backdrop to its live show in September, while another Italian, Matteo Garrone created a film for Dior’s digital couture presentation in Paris in July. Prada commissioned five international video artists for its presentation in July. 

What perhaps makes GucciFest unveil unique is its episodic format. 

Michele announced in May that he was breaking with the tradition of the four-times-a-year runway show, often punctuated with an additional destination cruise show. Gucci will now roll out largely seasonless collections in November and April. It’s hard to say what he might have done if the pandemic hadn’t in some ways made a virtual presentation a necessity — especially as the virus makes a resurgence. 

But Michele’s notion of how to present fashion has been in evolution since he took over the brand six years ago.

“It has been in the air for many years, the need to follow a new narrative and a new communication. I like experiments,” Michele said. While the pandemic did not condition the project, “for me it created a speedier reaction.” 

A film buff since childhood, Michele said he was discussing another project with Van Sant before the pandemic and proposed the miniseries project just a month ago. Van Sant traveled to Rome, where he filmed part of “My Private Idaho” 30 years ago, to shoot on location. 

“It was a spontaneous idea to make something within just a few weeks. I sort of found that exciting and challenging, like something I had done before,” the director said, recalling his work on “Gerry,” “Elephant” and “Last Days,” which he said were filmed on tight schedules with loose screenplays. 

Michele said the project was more a collaboration than a commission. “I felt neither invaded, nor invasive,” the creative director said.

The film series follows days in the life of a woman, played by Italian actress Silvia Calderoni, as she and her Gucci tribe move dreamily through a rarified Roman landscape, from her shabby chic apartment to a theater, café and vintage shop. She is joined by Gucci models with cameos by friends of Michele’s, including Billie Eilish, Florence Welch and Harry Styles, all wearing Gucci looks that will be in stores starting next spring. 

“There is a cinematic fusing with commerce,” Van Sant said. 

The format allows all fashionistas a coveted front-row seat, removing some of the exclusivity of the runway show. Customers will be able to see clothes in real-life, if perhaps surreal, situations. Michele said the garments were “freed from their traps,” the idea that luxury brands like Gucci belong out of reach, only in certain boutiques or closets. 

In the videos, branding is highlighted, and thought is given to the experience of the garments: Calderoni stretches in a sheer lace pajama, a diaphanous dress is set aloft from a balcony, and pearl beads rustle on a skirt fringe. 

“The combination of cinema with exposing fashion ideas has a lot of potential, as cinema starts to get sucked into the computer screen,” Van Sant said.

Beyond Bond, Connery’s 5 decades of unforgettable roles included kings, rogues, and an Oscar

By Jay Croft, CNN

(CNN) — Sean Connery earned screen immortality with seven star turns as super-spy James Bond 007.

But the long career of the Oscar winner — who died Saturday at 90 — was packed with full-blooded performances as other larger-than-life characters, as well. (His own persona was so big that he became a running gag on “SNL.”)

In more than 50 years on the screen, Connery worked with the greatest directors and actors of his time in big hits and notable bombs. And if he never quite escaped the shadow of Bond, performances like these still broadened his stature beyond his signature role.

James Bond in seven movies, starting with “Dr. No” (1962)

The gadgets! The women! The quips! Though others succeeded him in the role, Connery was the original Bond, and for countless film fans, the real McCoy. His combination of masculinity, charm and danger was unforgettable, and some of his lines became part of the lexicon: “Bond — James Bond” … “Shaken, not stirred.”

Mark Rutland in “Marnie” (1964)

Between early Bond outings, Connery enrolled with Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock and star Tippi Hedren for this psychological thriller. Reviews were mixed. The New York Times called both stars “attractive and promising” but noted their inexperience.

Col. Arbuthnot in “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974)

An all-star cast, a juicy whodunit, and A-list director (Sidney Lumet) lured Connery after he walked away from Bond (well, for the most part). Above, he’s standing to the left of Albert Finney, with his hand on Vanessa Redgrave’s shoulder.

Daniel Dravot in “The Man Who Would Be King” (1975)

Another prestige picture, this time for legendary filmmaker John Huston alongside Michael Caine. Connery was also in “The Wind and the Lion” that year, and played Robin Hood next to Audrey Hepburn in “Robin and Marion” the next year.

Jim Malone in “The Untouchables” (1987)

Connery stole the show (from Kevin Costner and Robert DeNiro) and won Best Supporting Actor in the hit adaptation of the Al Capone/Eliot Ness saga. “You know how to get Capone?” he schools Costner. “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way!”

Professor Henry Jones in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)

Connery was in a fruitful period when he scored as Harrison Ford’s dad in this chapter of the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” series. Fun fact: Connery was just 12 years older than his on-screen son.

Capt. Marko Ramius in “The Hunt for Red October” (1990)

He scored another huge hit as a Soviet submarine captain defecting to the US, this time showing Alec Baldwin how it’s done.

John Patrick Mason in “The Rock” (1996)

He’d go on to a few other roles, notably “Entrapment” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” But this action blockbuster and cable TV perennial cemented Connery’s status for a new generation of viewers who didn’t know his body of work and might have known James Bond only as that guy from “Remington Steele.”


‘American Idol’ contestant Nikki McKibbin dies at 42

Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Nikki McKibbin, a singer from Texas best known for her third place finish in the first season of American Idol, has died. She was 42.

McKibbin’s husband, Craig Sadler, confirmed her death in a Facebook post, saying that she had died after suffering a brain aneurysm on Wednesday and was taken off life support early Sunday. Her husband did not say where she died.

McKibbin’s son, Tristen Langley, told The New York Times that his mother died in Arlington, Texas.

“She was so loved that I know thousands of you will be grieving with us,” Sadler said. “She loved so many of you and I know you loved her too.”

McKibbin appeared on American Idol in 2002, when the show started and became an instant hit.

A 23-year-old from Grand Prairie, Texas, McKibbin impressed the judges with soulful performances of songs by Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks and a stirring cover of Alanna Myles’ song “Black Velvet.”

McKibbin finished third on the show that year, behind Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson, who won the competition.

Gracious in defeat, McKibbin tearfully hugged her fellow contestants when she was voted out in 2002.

“What an incredible journey this has been,” McKibbin said before leaving the stage. “Just to know that so many people support me and enjoy what I do means more than anything in the world.″

The often acid-tongued Simon Cowell was equally gracious.

“Reality check: Out of 10,000 people, you are third. This is not a time for tears,″ he told McKibbin. “You’ve got a career ahead of you.″

In a statement, American Idol sent its condolences to McKibbin’s family and friends.

“Nikki McKibbin was an incredible talent and we are deeply saddened by the news of her passing,” the TV show said in a statement posted on Twitter. “She was part of our American Idol family and will be truly missed.”


James Redford, filmmaker and son of Robert Redford, dies at 58

(CNN) — James Redford, an activist, filmmaker and philanthropist, has died, a rep for his father, actor and director Robert Redford, confirmed to CNN Tuesday.

The younger Redford was 58.

“The grief is immeasurable with the loss of a child. Jamie was a loving son, husband and father,” a statement provided to CNN from Robert Redford’s publicist Cindi Berger read. “His legacy lives on through his children, art, filmmaking and devoted passion to conservation and the environment. Robert Redford is mourning with his family during this difficult time and asks for privacy.”

James Redford’s wife, Kyle, tweeted the news on Friday along with photos of him and their family.

“Jamie died today. We’re heartbroken,” she wrote. “He lived a beautiful, impactful life & was loved by many.”

<img alt=”Robert Redford: The big question I want answered” class=”media__image” src=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/201011101543-restricted-file-robert-redford-the-candidate-large-169.jpg”>

“He will be deeply missed. As his wife of 32 yrs, I’m most grateful for the two spectacular children we raised together,” the tweet went on to say. “I don’t know what we would’ve done w/o them over the past 2yrs.”

Kyle Redford told The Salt Lake Tribune her husband died of bile-duct cancer in his liver.

David James Redford, who was known as “Jamie,” was the third of four children born to Robert Redford and his former wife, historian Lola Van Wagenen.

James Redford graduated with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and film from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a master’s degree in literature from Northwestern University.

He and his father co-founded The Redford Center in 2005 which according to its site “uses impact-driven film and media to accelerate environmental and climate justice, solutions and repair.”

The younger Redford served as the organization’s chairman where he called on his skills as a writer, director and producer for film and television.

“I come from a long line of storytellers, so the idea of being compelled to make sense of things is essential to who I am and how I see the world,” he said.

He wrote, directed and produced more than a dozen films, including the award-winning documentaries “Watershed,” “Toxic Hot Seat” and “Mann v. Ford.”

After undergoing two liver transplants, he launched the James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness, a nonprofit seeking to educate the public about the need for organ and tissue donation.

Redford reveled in his outreach.

“I just love meeting people and hearing their stories,” he said. “Being in the documentary filmmaking world ensures your life is one long continuing education course. You’re constantly learning more — not only about topics but also about human nature. And then to be able to apply a love of sound and vision into how you shape that content — that’s the icing on the cake.”

Author Amy Tan posted a tribute to Redford on her verified Facebook page Monday, saying she was “devastated” by her friend’s death.

She said he had sent her a rough copy of his latest documentary “Where the Past Begins,” but had grown concerned when she hadn’t heard back from him when she emailed him.

Tan said she reached out to his wife, who told her Tan’s email was the last he had read as his health was rapidly declining just before he died.

“I was sorry I could not give Jamie my fond farewell. But I now think it was unnecessary,” Tan wrote. “I imagine Jamie felt as I do after turning in a manuscript. You hold your breath until you get the verdict. You suspect the worst. And when he received my enthusiastic response, I imagine he was happy and relieved, and could finally put aside uncertainty and let go of pain.”