Orchestrating the Network's Branded Entertainment Deals

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Who: Linda Yaccarino, executive vice president and general manager of ad sales and marketing at Turner Entertainment.

Why you need to know her: Ms. Yaccarino is the architect behind TNT and TBS’s branded entertainment
Linda Yaccarino, executive vice president and general manager of ad sales and marketing at Turner Entertainment.

and integrated marketing deals. With Turner’s recent emphasis on original programming, the number of integration opportunities is expected to expand; Ms. Yaccarino recently added to her team by hiring Laura Del Greco, who was formerly at Warner Music Group.

Credentials: Ms. Yaccarino, a Turner veteran since 1993, has been involved with almost every one of the company’s major integrated marketing deals. She formed TNT’s original film development partnership with Johnson & Johnson, created Mitsubishi’s 15-month partnership with Sex and the City and negotiated the sponsor integration into TBS’s The Real Gilligan’s Island and Outback Jack. At TNT she’s crafted branded promotions with such clients as Pfizer, Verizon, Nissan, Diet Coke and Kleenex.

What do you think is the best example of a branded entertainment deal you've done at Turner? “It’s difficult to name just one since TBS and TNT have been in the branded entertainment business for many years with ground-breaking programs like Dinner & a Movie. We have had tremendous success this year with Dodge and the new TNT series Wanted. It is a great example of great programming partnering with a great brand and it extends way beyond an on-air partnership. And of course, one of our most notable partnerships has been our original film partnership with the Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentations. The TNT original films have not only performed well on the network, but have been nominated for and won Emmy Awards. This is an alliance that truly reflects the core values and strengths of both the client’s brands and the brand of TNT.”

Turner has emphasized original programming in the last few years. How does this affect what you're able to do in terms of branded entertainment? “Original programming increases the opportunities to incorporate the right brands with the right content.”

Turner, specifically TNT, has more scripted fare than many other cable networks. What kinds of additional challenges are there in working brands into scripted shows? “Our first priority is to tell a great story, but we also believe that scripted programs truly offer unique opportunities to advertisers as long as the brands enhance the content that the viewer sees.”

Is there a bigger payoff for a brand to be in a scripted show? “That totally depends on the program and the advertisers' brand objectives. Integrating brands into unscripted or scripted fare is just one element of the partnership.”

There are always a lot of moving parts in these deals. How do you juggle the needs of everyone involved? “Coordinating all the moving parts and managing expectations is the key to being successful. The demand to develop branded entertainment opportunities is growing and in order to continue being a leader in this field, Laura Del Greco has just joined the management team at Turner Entertainment. She has a great track record and ability to understand the needs of the network and the talent behind the content, along with a unique ability to match marketing partners to that content.”

What are your guidelines for doing a branded entertainment deal? “Our primary guideline is that the content must strongly reflect our respective network brands and ultimately resonate with the viewer -- partners involved with our programming must enhance that content. Getting involved in the process as early on as possible increases the opportunities for an advertiser. We sit down with advertisers often to discuss their goals and our development.”

Brands are very selective about which programs they work with. Are you finding that it's important for networks to be selective as well about the brands they integrate into programming? “It is important for both sides to be selective, but the content has to come first.”

What does a show get out of an integrated marketing deal? “Our goal is to enhance the viewer experience while offering our advertisers comprehensive ways to reach their consumers. This can include integration, but it also extends to off-air promotion, which can include print, online, broadband, wireless, video on demand, etc. It is about a long-term marketing relationship between Turner and our clients.”

What will be the most important changes in branded entertainment in the coming year? “Finding compelling content is always the number one challenge for a network. Luckily at Turner we have two top performing network brands, several hit programs, and a lot more original programming in development. Marrying advertisers with those programs and finding ways to market them together is a primary focus.”

What will be the biggest challenges? “Navigating the changes in the marketplace. A viewer's choice is virtually unlimited, and our goal is to capture the viewer wherever they consume their media. That means extending the content of the TBS and TNT brands into a multi-screen environment -- broadband, wireless, VOD, etc.”

Where do you call home? “Home is Sea Cliff, N.Y.”

When you're not marrying brands and content, what do you like to do for fun? “Spending time with my son, Matthew, and my daughter, Christian.”

What are your favorite Turner shows? The Closer and Sex and the City.

What book is on your nightstand right now? “Does the September issue of In Style count as a book? Seriously, there are several, some of which I hope to read: The Four Agreements, Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office and The Last Mogul.”

What’s the last movie you went to? Wedding Crashers.