1. LOVE GONE COLD: CHRYSLER DUMPS CELINE Hindsight is often 20-20, but it seems incredible that the folks at Chrysler would give an artist $14 million to help move its brand upmarket, given the glaring disconnect between the brand's target audience and her core fan base. While Celine's new CD went double-platinum in short order last spring, lots of Chrysler's inventory sat gathering dust. While the Chrysler brass will honor its three-year pact to sponsor Celine's Vegas show, dealers are relieved that corporate has backpedaled on the ads.
2.HOLLYWOOD ON THE SEINE:PUBLICIS TO SET UP ENTERTAINMENT UNIT After swallowing up Bcom3 Group, Publicis honcho Maurice Levy is ready to be entertained. While Omnicom and IPG have more aggressively led the charge in exploring holding company architectures for entertainment plays, Levy is exploring the possibility of creating his own unit, eyeing Tinseltown mainstays to help him. With Levy joining the club, all eyes turn to WPP and Sir Martin, who's lying in the weeds. Look for Mr. Sorrell to pounce in 2004.
3.BRANDS SHOOT DOWN 'THE MATRIX' What went wrong for the blue chip brands attached to Warner Bros.' "The Matrix Reloaded"? One thing's clear— Hollywood hasn't seen a dustup like this since Reebok sued Sony over "Jerry Maguire". General Motors' Cadillac scrapped a big budget TV campaign pegged to the movie after it couldn't get the talent cooperation or film footage it wanted. Samsung, Heineken, and Coke also groused about poor treatment from the filmmakers. Could the studio have brought the hammer down on the Wachowski brothers? Will this parable of failed convergence make brands gun shy?
4.'THE RESTAURANT' EXPERIMENTS WITH NEW RECIPE No one could accuse Rocco DiSpirito of being an unenthusiastic shill for NBC's "The Restaurant". Marketing partners, Coors, American Express and Mitsubishi, all got more airtime than Rocco's mom and her killer meatballs. It's just a shame that much of the product placement had to be so in-your-face. Despite its clumsy commercialization, the show's producers, Robert Riesenberg of Magna Global and Reveille's Ben Silverman, score points for an innovative financing model, easing much of the risk for the Peacock.
5. ABC BOOKS MINDSHARE: WPP UNIT ENTERS JOINT PRODUCTION PACT It shouldn't be glossed over that MindShare North America chief Marc Goldstein hammered out this "framework" with programming chief Susan Lyne—not ad sales prez Mike Shaw. Is "open-ended and non-exclusive" code for "ABC has nothing to lose"? Since running Regis's "Millionaire" into the ground, the traditional methods of developing breakout hits just haven't worked over the past few years. But will MindShare and its clients ultimately have the stomach to play in the money pit that is network television deficit financing.
6.MADISON VS. VINE: OMNICOM BESTS CAA FOR H-P ENTERTAINMENT BIZ An unlikely suspect made quite a splash at the dawn of 2003 by pitting best-of-class outfits from Madison Avenue—Omnicom— and the Wilshire Corridor—CAA—, respectively, in a shootout for its entertainment marketing account. Having squashed her detractors in the bruising battle to subsume rival Compaq, H-P CEO Carly Fiorina is poised to refashion the dowdy H-P brand with a contemporary sheen. After some initial poking around— including some preliminary discussions with Lyor Cohen at Island Def Jam—H-P opted for familiarity over glitz.
7.COLA WARS MOVE ONLINE Liters of Pepsi could well be flying off the shelves at a greater clip come February, when the soda behemoth's $100 million free music promotion with Apple's iTunes kicks into gear. The deal gives scale to branded legal downloads and speaks to the growing notion of the Internet as the primary music retailer of the 21st century. Not to be outdone, Coke countered with plans to bow its own online music store in the U.K.
8.FORD'S FEATURE FILM REVOLUTION The car's the star. At least that's the idea behind this deal between Ford and Sony-based Revolution. This tie-up calls for the two outfits to partner from the get-go. Ford will powwow with Revolution filmmakers on getting their vehicles star treatment, while Revolution will get to look under the hood at Ford's research and design centers. The first project is an Ice Cube road comedy called "Are We There Yet?" with a tricked out Lincoln Navigator. Paradigm-shifter or glorified product placement deal?
9. OMD BEAMS UP SCI-FI BRAND INTEGRATION OMD's Guy McCarter grabbed headlines when he cut this $3 million integration deal—a virtual OMD monopoly—with the Sci-Fi Channel for its new five-part summer 2004 miniseries, "5 Days to Midnight." Now for the hard part. Weaving in a slew of clients into "Survivor" is one thing; scripted integration is another beast altogether. Will Nissan and McDonald's and Visa and FedEx and all the rest be smiling at the end?
10. REEBOK'S URBAN PLAY: JAY-Z and 50 CENT Unlike archrival Nike— which hitches its wagon to the sports world's superstars—, and other archrival Adidas,—which hitches its wagon to the sports world's superstars—, Reebok's going after the street cred. Inking deals with hip-hop stars Jay-Z and 50 Cent, the Canton, Mass.-based company this year gave the two players their own "signature" lines under the Rbk banner. Early returns are good. The Jay-Z shoe called S.Carter sold out the initial half-million run from the spring.
10 PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2004 AT THE INTERSECTION OF MADISON + VINE
1. STEVE HEYER, PRESIDENT/COO, COCA-COLA CO. At the start of 2003, the king of sodapop implored Hollywood and Madison Avenue to make nice in a new co-marketing paradigm. Will he back up his call-to-arms rhetoric with results of his own?
2.BOB WRIGHT,CHAIRMAN/CEO, NBC Now riding herd over a $43 billion Peacock, which includes the high-risk motion picture biz, how will the G.E.-backed honcho's slavish devotion to number-crunching play with Hollywood's high rollers? Can brands expect a more collaborative role in leveraging the expanded NBC Universal?
3. BRUCE REDDITT, EXEC-VP, OMNICOM GROUP Over the past several years, John Wren's entertainment point man has methodically built up the holding company's capability through deals like the Davie-Brown acquisition. Don't expect him to stay idle in 2004.
4. MARTY YUDKOVITZ, PRESIDENT, TIVO The ex-NBC vet's job just got a lot tougher. TiVo's "Intel" strategy as a DVR technology licensor took a huge blow when Comcast, the biggest cable operator in the country, opted to go to war with Motorola and TV Guide. Look for Yudkovitz to talk up TiVo as a media services play to brand marketers.
5. SUSAN LYNE, PRESIDENT,ABC ENTERTAINMENT With the Alphabet Net leading with its chin for the past few years, the pressure will only ratchet up to generate breakout hits. Her MindShare co-production pact was good for headlines but will it actually deliver? Michael Eisner will be watching.
6. MARC SHMUGER,VICE-CHAIRMAN, UNIVERSAL PICTURES One of Hollywood's most creative studio execs exhorted brand marketers this year to become movie moguls. What makes him think he can convince brands to roll the dice in such a high-stakes game?
7. JIMMY IOVINE, CHAIRMAN, INTERSCOPE GEFFEN A&M One of the godfathers of branded music runs in many circles; he's as charming with Heyer as he is with Eminem. Will he continue to register the bling in 2004?
8. PETER ARNELL, CEO, ARNELL GROUP Since Celine didn't work out, how about Barbra Streisand? Licking his wounds, what will Omnicom's agent provocateur do for a comeback? Will he still have John Wren's ear?
9. MARK DOWLEY, PARTNER, ENDEAVOR While the Interpublic sports and entertainment honcho may have been a bull-in-the-china- shop at the holding company, the rough-and-tumble of the Wilshire Corridor may be more to his liking.
10. MITCH KANNER, PARTNER, INTEGRATED ENTERTAINMENT PARTNERS Backed by Hollywood heavies Skip Brittenham and Rich Frank, Kanner has few peers in opening doors at the intersection of Madison+Vine. Will branded entertainment's walking rolodex show us the money in 2004?