Break Media and Sony Team Up to Make Advertising Agencies Nervous

Sony Gets A 30-Second Spot on 'Jersey Shore' Without Big Agency Economics

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If you watched the season finale of Jersey Shore carefully, you saw many concerning things, including Deena Cortese's take on Michelangelo's "David."

But if you work in advertising -- particularly a creative agency, the kind paid millions to produce 30-second spots during shows like "Jersey Shore" -- you saw something even more disturbing: a 30-second ad simply cut down from a longer web video created by Break Media for Sony Network Entertainment.

Sony liked the original, longer piece of web video, which portrays the hazards of running out of "skips" on your music subscription service, and asked Break for a 30-second cut. But it didn't say it was going to swap it in as a TV spot during the finale of "Jersey Shore," seen by an average of 6.6 million viewers a few weeks ago, and save itself at least a couple hundred grand in agency fees in the process.


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What did Break charge for the spot? Nothing beyond its fee for creating the original video.

We're a few examples short of a trend here, but at the very least its another instance of the democratization of some functions once exclusively performed by agencies. Agencies have been busily cannibalizing each other; media agencies are doing creative and creative agencies buying their own media. Publishers online and off have been providing creative services to their advertisers for years.

But the production of 30-second TV spots has remained one high-margin corner of the advertising world still dominated by the biggest agencies. Agencies' fees to make commercials can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even $1 million for some spots, depending on actors, music, visuals, etc, and additional fees can apply for national vs local use. It's a great business, but will that last?

"We'll do 250 episdoes of branded content this year," said Break Media CEO Keith Richman. "Increasingly clients are asking what else they can do with the assets, which wasn't happening before."

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