Evan Shapiro (IFC) hosted a good call today in advance of the 2012 RealScreen panel he’s moderating next week in Washington, DC. The panel includes Bill Davenport (Weiden & Kennedy Entertainment) and Mike Duffy (Electus) and me. My friends know the title of the session is one I’ll have trouble with: Branded Entertainment: The Pitch & The Process.
Evan’s a good friend, a smart dude, and his networks always find ways to win. You can read some of his thoughts on the industry here.
We can debate what “branded entertainment” even means, but I doubt any of us on this panel care to anymore. I’m pretty sure I’m the sole panelist at the entire conference who cringes when anyone says I do branded entertainment. What I hope we’ll do is agree on two things in this conversation:
1) Most Branded Entertainment concepts are not good for networks and not good for marketers. They crash into networks and brands like unidentified flying projects. They almost never work, even when it looks like they might, despite what all the decks and trade stories tell you after the fact, and before.
2) CMO’s, producers, agencies and programmers — we all have one boss: The audience. (Also known as the consumer.) If they don’t love what we do, it doesn’t matter what the research says, and it doesn’t matter that we think our show is fucking amazing. They’re turning the channel, they’re closing the webpage, and they’re not picking that brand up in the aisle.
Not sure how this will go, but I have mad respect for what these guys have accomplished and the businesses they’ve built. Even though I’m a bit of the outsider here, I kinda like it. And, in the hands of a moderator like Evan, there’s a chance we could advance the dialogue the industry’s been stuck in for the last decade.
Branded Entertainment: The Pitch and the Process
February 1, 2012 – 10:15 AM to 11:15 AM
ROOM: RENAISSANCE BALLROOM
Here, a team of experts in the burgeoning branded entertainment realm revisit a hot-button topic covered in last October’s realscreen Branded Entertainment Forum in New York City. When it comes to bringing brand-funded content to non-fiction networks, what are the walls that become apparent in the process between brands, broadcasters and producers and how can they come down? This panel will illuminate the key issues in the discussion, with insight from advertisers, agencies, broadcasters and producers who’ve found ways to work together to bring brand-supported TV properties to life.