Last week during TV broadcasters' upfront pitches to ad buyers, one media agency was doing more than just eyeing prime-time ad slots to buy. It was working to create its own prime-time programming.
Mindshare Entertainment, the branded entertainment arm of WPP's media-buying agency Mindshare, has optioned "The Rise of Superman," a best-selling book exploring the performance of action-sports athletes, to develop a TV series called "Rise."
"Rise" will be Mindshare's first project intended specifically for prime-time TV. Mindshare doesn't have a deal with a network, but it's in talks with two cable networks about a 60- to 90-minute documentary or a six- to eight-episode series, said North America Chief Content Officer David Lang. He declined to comment on what the option cost.
"This is a multiplatform opportunity that has legs in a lot of ways: TV obviously, long-form; customized digital experiences, short-form; and even some events as well," Mr. Lang said. "It's an opportunity for us to own a piece of IP and to be able to create great content and distribute it while giving clients a first opportunity to be involved."
The hope is that marketers will also be interested in the advertising opportunities that result. Those could range from product-placement and brand integration to traditional advertising. "What clients we approach is dependent on what deal we close," Mr. Lang said. "Different networks will be more appropriate for different clients."
Although Mindshare hasn't set out to do prime time before, its digital series "In the Motherhood," which began in 2007 and integrated Suave and Sprint Nextel became a short-lived prime-time show on ABC.
The team on the project includes Mr. Lang from Mindshare; Dirk Collins, founder and CEO of production house OneEyedBird Marketing & Entertainment; and Steven Kotler and his business manager Johnny Alamo.