The partnership comes as marketers are demanding more collaboration between media and creative services and as more players in the marketing business -- from production companies to PR firms -- are getting into the branded-entertainment space.
Integrating traditional with nontraditional
Group M Entertainment and Ogilvy will now have the opportunity to closely integrate branded content with traditional advertising messaging, such as TV and print, as well as leverage multiple media platforms for that content.
"[Branded entertainment] is starting to become a bit more strategic and focused," said Peter Tortorici, CEO of Group M Entertainment, who will manage the co-venture. "What we are trying to do is join up capabilities that, when added together, provide a higher level of service to our clients."
Both Group M and Ogilvy have had recent successes in the space. Group M's MindShare's recent campaign, "In the Motherhood," which integrated Sprint and Unilever in a web series about the experiences of everyday moms, received more than 5.5. million video views in its first season. Ogilvy has also recently worked on branded content with Unilever, creating "In Search of Real Food," a 12-part series airing on Yahoo Food featuring celebrity chef David Lieberman.
Klauberg as catalyst
Laura Klauberg, senior VP-global media for Unilever, was identified as a catalyst for the partnership between Group M and Ogilvy, but Mr. Tortorici said the idea came from trying to stay ahead of the market, rather than any specific client demand. Mr. Tortorici and Bill Gray, CEO of Ogilvy North America, have been in discussions about the venture for about 10 months.
"This didn't come lightly," Mr. Gray said. "There is high degree of comfort with what [Mr. Tortorici] does, so we have a relationship. Both of us have succeeded in the space of creating new platforms and ideas that go beyond traditional boundaries."
Branded content has become an increasingly important part of marketers' media mixes as consumers tune out other forms of advertising, which stems from "from the paradigm shift from interruption to engagement," Mr. Tortorici said.
But Mr. Gray was careful to caution that the focus on branded entertainment isn't just a "pocket shift" for the agencies.
"This is not just confined to substituting [for] traditional broadcast advertising," he said. "When you have a really good idea, it really spreads though the entire spectrum [of media]."