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Normandy Madden Joins Thoughtful Media Group in China

Ad Age's Former Asia Editor Will Be Senior VP-Content Development For Branded-Entertainment Company

By Published on . 1

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Normandy Madden, Ad Age's Asia editor, is joining U.S. branded-entertainment company Thoughtful Media Group this month in the new role of senior VP, content development for Asia-Pacific.

Backed by venture capital, Thoughtful Media started in March 2010 and is currently setting up a Shanghai office, the company's third in addition to Los Angeles and Tokyo.

"China is really our flagship office," said CEO Jak Severson. "We expect to have 35 to 40 people in China by the end of spring."

Mr. Severson previously created branded content for U.S. TV channels as a partner at Madison Road Entertainment, but left last year to start Thoughtful Media. "In 2010 I decided to get off the TV train," he said. "The challenge with TV in the U.S. is it's so hit-focused, and so costly, the odds of getting a show on air are so small, and the odds of creating a hit are virtually lottery-like."

Thoughtful Media follows a different model. And China, a fast-growing market with a huge appetite for online video entertainment, is particularly appealing.

"We create online personalities played by actors to attract audiences that advertisers are specifically looking for," Mr. Severson said. "We're not a production company or an ad agency; we're more like a studio. We reduce risk by absorbing a lot of the initial costs. That helps lower the cost for advertisers and allows them to test the waters. We own the characters and the client pays a licensing fee each month."

Ms. Madden, who started as a Prague-based Ad Age correspondent for Central and Eastern Europe, moved to Hong Kong in 1998 to cover Asia, with an emphasis on China, for Ad Age and AdAge.com. She also started and edited the Ad Age China electronic newsletter, launched in 2006, and programmed two Ad Age China conferences in Shanghai.

At Thoughtful Media, she will also be executive producer of a weekly online creative affairs show for China's advertising community. Mr. Severson said the China program may be a model to launch similar online shows in Japan and the U.S. Ms. Madden will also do business development with ad agencies and marketers, he said.

"China is an incredibly important country for multinational marketers, advertising holding companies and global media companies and we've been lucky to have someone with Normandy's depth of market and industry knowledge covering it for us," said Abbey Klaassen, Ad Age editor. "We're sorry to see her leave us—though we hope she'll continue to occasionally write columns for Ad Age. And we're excited to follow her next step, in which she will work to grow the pool of high-quality online content in the region. Our commitment to China remains and we've begun an aggressive search for her replacement."

Ad Age is looking for a new China-based editor to cover advertising, marketing and media for Advertising Age's weekly print magazine and AdAge.com. In one change, Ad Age's China stories, previously published in the paid-for subscription-only newsletter Ad Age China, will now be available on AdAge.com.

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