With Radical Media -- creator of branded shows such as "The Gamekillers" for Axe on MTV and the upcoming "Fast Cars and Superstars" for Gillette on ABC -- teaming up with Fremantle -- the commercial arm of the company behind international TV hits "Pop Idol" and "The Apprentice" -- the result is what Robert Friedman, president-media and entertainment, Radical Media, calls a "pretty strong one-stop shop for the development and distribution of product."
May co-develop content
The heart of the partnership is a two-year, nonexclusive, international distribution and licensing deal for the branded content Radical creates for global clients such as Apple, Nike, Sony and Electronic Arts. But Mr. Friedman said the companies are so well-aligned that they may also co-develop some properties -- both branded and otherwise -- in the future. Already, he hinted, the two companies have discussed some reality-show and sports-entertainment properties.
"For us, it never has been just about distribution," said Jeff Tahler, VP-acquisitions and distribution, Fremantle. "We have been a global distributor, but we really are a global brand manager, and we want to be involved as much as our partners would like us to be."
Citing a recent study from the Association of National Advertisers that found 70% of all U.S. marketers surveyed participate in some form of branded content, Mr. Friedman said the number is considerably lower in other countries, largely due to different rules and regulations regarding integration. The time is ripe, he said, to make branded content more prevalent in other countries for a number of reasons -- including high production costs and time shifting via digital video recorders.
Other ways to cut through clutter
"It's extremely expensive to cut through the clutter if you can and get the word out there, whether it's branded or not," he said. "We can provide solutions for brands who are looking for other ways to cut through the clutter."
The partnership will allow Radical to take properties such as "The Gamekillers," a scripted reality dating show based on Axe Body Spray's positioning of keeping men calm and cool under pressure, and reformat or reformulate it for potential audiences in, say, the U.K. or Australia.
As Europe-centric Fremantle continues to work on strengthening its presence in North America, Mr. Tahler said it is looking to ramp up acquisitions for distribution. "Our success," he said, "really hinges on being able to identify people who will supply us with product that is going to work not only here in the States but as a global type of brand."
Partnership a no-brainer
Selecting Radical as one of Fremantle's primary partners was a no-brainer: "When you look at what Radical has done and the way they have done it, being true to their brand while focusing on creative ... you see that they understand how this business is done," Mr. Tahler said.
The partnership will also encourage Radical's global offices -- which focus largely on production -- to spend more time brainstorming with Fremantle's people.
"We think we'll make them more active and make them a leader in the international space," Mr. Friedman said.