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3 Things to Know About the Rise of Impact Entertainment

Social consciousness is a larger part of the public consciousness than ever before. As such, brands, media companies, and corporations are seeking to connect with the country’s ever growing, socially conscious consumer base in the emerging category of impact entertainment: media at the cross section of traditional entertainment and content that sheds light on social issues and impact.

SoulPancake and Participant Media, in partnership with Brand Storytelling, set out to capture the marketing community’s perspective and thoughts surrounding the use of traditional entertainment to spotlight and impact issues like climate change, income inequality, racial tension, and acceptance of LGBTQ+ citizens.

Brand Storytelling sat down with SoulPancake CEO Shabnam Mogharabi, who detailed the 3 largest takeaways from the Rise of Impact Entertainment Poll and subsequent white paper:

Indifference is no longer an option

According to the study, 85 percent of brand marketers believe that staying silent on controversy is worse than being controversial. Marketers and executives alike stated that staying silent on issues facing today’s consumers can actually hurt brand awareness and even brand financial performance.

Lack of flow of information

Although respondents to the survey who belong to the C-suite demonstrated abundant enthusiasm surrounding impact entertainment, ultimately there was a 10 to 15 percent difference between the C-suite and general marketing audience when it comes to interest in investing in and working to create impact entertainment. While their leaders want to do it, the folks who execute on marketing media do not share that same enthusiasm. This is due in large part to marketers not knowing where to begin, creating a sort of “skills gap” that can be difficult to clear.

One area to focus on in in improving the information pipeline is the relationship between brand and agency. Because agencies are the typical sounding board for traditional marketing, there’s often a gap in agency understanding of the traditional entertainment, financing, and packaging market.

The “Purpose Gap”

Results showed there’s a divide between support for impact entertainment and actual impact. Of the respondents that spoke favorably about impact entertainment, only 38 percent were actually interested in the entertainment’s influence an impact on the issue in focus. Marketers seeing value in appearing to stand for something but omitting impact results in KPI’s is demonstrative of a major disconnect between impact entertainment’s existence and purpose. It’s paramount that brands measure the actual impact of their impact entertainment.


To honor those differentiating themselves through impact entertainment, Brand Storytelling, in partnership with the Clio Awards, will highlight the creative work of brands in the area of impact entertainment with the inaugural Storytelling For Good Award. The award will be presented Jan. 23, 2020 during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

You can access the “Rise of Impact Entertainment” White Paper, featuring an executive summary of the impact entertainment survey and case studies here.


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