Fictive Branding

Our view on Fictive Branding

Bernini's remarkable thesis

Fictive Branding is the creation of imaginary brands in movies, series or video games and the development of a complete branding strategy to bring those brands to life in the minds of the viewers. Fictive Branding brings a lot of possibilities in today's marketing & advertising world.

That's why Lorenzo Bernini, as part of his master's thesis in Communication Design at the 'Politecnico di Milano' college, drew up an online archive of fictional brands as they have appeared in films, television series and video games.

Bernini offers a comprehensive insight on the use of brands that don't refer to existing services, products, businesses or organizations, and he examined how brand stories and emotional connections can be built with fictional entities. Bernini's full research is available here.

Fictive Product Placement

Brand appearances in films, series and video games involves the use of product placement. The brand in question pays the film producer to be portrayed according to strict agreements. (Read more about this matter in our blog about product placement.)

Directors often prefer to create completely fictional brands, with a nod towards the real world, of course. In this way, they can avoid any agreement, allowing them complete creative freedom. Think of iconic brands from the past, for example, the Willy Wonka-Bars are one of the most famous examples of Fictive Branding.

Defictionalization, from fiction to nonfiction

Inspired by the character Willy Wonka from Roal Dahl's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," the Willy Wonka brand was created with legendary chocolate bars as its product. The magic of the Golden Ticket has even found its way into the real world. More and more companies are using "golden tickets" in their packaging.

Willy Wonka chocolade bars

Which is called defictionalization, also known as reverse product placement. Defictionalization is the process of turning a fictional brand into a real brand that exists outside the fiction from which it was created. This is how the Wonka-bars found their way into the real world. Last decade, the bars rolled off the conveyor belt at Nestlé's factories in honor of Roal Dahl's book. Meanwhile, chocolate producer Nestlé sold its Wonka-bars to the Ferrero Group.

Tony’s Chocolonely was also possibly going to participate in the defictionalization of the fictional Wonka brand. Several years ago, Tony’s Chocolonely came forward with the news of building a real life version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory that would have been accessible to the general public and would have had an amusement park. Another example is the well-known Duff Beer, Homer Simpson's favorite beer. Fans of the series can now enjoy this legendary brew in the real world.

Homer's Duff Beer

Welcome to the Wendyverse

A new dimension of branding is also emerging in the vibrant world of the Metaverse. In the digital landscape, brands can create interaction with (potential) consumers in an unique way. For example, clothing chain ZARA ensures that consumers can immediately see how the look suits them during online shopping, after which you can buy the clothes for your avatar and order them online in the 'real' world.

American fast food chain Wendy's has also strongly positioned itself in the Metaverse using their so-called 'Wendyverse'. In the Wendyverse you can visit a Wendy's restaurant, meet up with friends/avatars and get discount codes that you can use in a real life 'Wendy’s' restaurant.


Digital Synergy

Fictive Branding, with its use of books, video games and cartoons, and the Metaverse demonstrate that brands are becoming increasingly inventive in involving consumers and building brand loyalty. As the line between the digital (fictional) worlds and the real world is fading increasingly, it opens up new ways of marketing and brand experience.