By now, unless you truly have no interest, you've probably read that Ashton Kutcher, Mr. Demi Moore, impresario of MTV's "Punk'd" and star of "Valentine's Day" and "What Happens in Vegas," has his own web-centric production outfit called Katalyst. You've also figured out that Mr. Kutcher is far from a debutante when it comes to marketing and has a vision for how to unite Hollywood and brands together to make profitable entertainment on the web.
Part of Katalyst is an old-school production company, with film credits such as "The Butterfly Effect," "Guess Who" and the upcoming Lionsgate release "Killers" to its credit. The online side of the company, though, is busy forging a model for profitable content on the web, and that means working with brands. Two years into the experiment, Mr. Kutcher and crew (which includes co-founder Jason Goldberg and digital chief Sarah Ross) have a few successful brand collaborations under their belts, as well as a guiding philosophy.
With 4.6 million Twitter followers and nearly 3.3 million Facebook "friends," Mr. Kutcher would seem to be the ideal celebrity to push that content to the masses, but just because you're working with Katalyst doesn't mean Mr. Kutcher tweets about you. Quite the opposite, unless you happen to be Nestlé's Hot Pockets, sponsor of the web reality show "Katalyst HQ." What distinguishes Katalyst from other web studios is its tight focus on profitability. Quite simply, if a brand isn't paying, it's not getting produced. Sometimes that makes the product look more like it came out of an ad agency than a production company, such as Katalyst's work on Pepsi's "DEWmocracy," which harnessed an online crowd to select three new flavors and even crowdsourced marketing ideas. It's a long way from film, TV or even the web series, but it's a business. Said Ms. Ross: "The social-media models are in such early stages I feel like we are touching the tip of a very big iceberg."
See the rest of the 2010 Creativity 50 here.