Mr. McCarter, director of entertainment marketing for Green Room Entertainment, the branded-entertainment arm of Omnicom Group's OMD, is an early champion of the integrated ad model. In his current position, he continues the role he has played with OMD since it was a media department within Omnicom sibling creative agency BBDO, where he worked on branded-entertainment and long-form content solutions for ad clients. Once OMD became its own dedicated media agency, Mr. McCarter helped spearhead the Optimum Entertainment and Sports groups, before spinning Optimum Entertainment off into the rebranded Green Room last year.
Mr. McCarter now oversees integrated projects for 14 Omnicom clients with a growing staff that includes recent outposts in Las Vegas, where clients such as the city's Convention and Visitors Authority and the Hard Rock Hotel reside.
Green Room's distribution model is also helping marketers come even closer to determining how their branded content contributes to the ultimate advertising metric: product sales. OMD and Green Room helped link Doritos' Spicy Sweet Chili Chips exclusively with MTV Networks for the product's launch in April, via a "Spicy Meets Sweet" microseries for MTV and a sponsorship of Stephen Colbert's mock presidential bid on "The Colbert Report." Both projects generated large amounts of exposure on TV, with MTV's Spicy Sweet microsite yielding 200,000 unique visits in its first few weeks after launch. And a new partnership with HGTV's "Rate My Space" to make home-improvement retailer Lowe's the show's exclusive retail partner and integrated sponsor will take branded entertainment further to the point of sale with additional in-store marketing elements.
All of which adds up to why Mr. McCarter is busier than ever lining up deals, partnering with Omnicom's branded-entertainment production arm Full Circle Entertainment and commissioning research companies such as Nielsen, ITVX and NextMedium to measure the next wave of ad campaigns.
Madison & Vine checked in with the media buyer recently to see what else is developing inside Green Room.
Madison & Vine: We saw more marketers and media buyers than ever close branded-entertainment deals in the first few weeks of upfront negotiations this year. Now that your agency has fully staffed itself to handle more of these customized content deals, what kind of metrics are you able to put against projects such as Stephen Colbert's Doritos campaign or a Hershey's integration into "Project Runway?"
Guy McCarter: TV ratings and product sales in some cases are definitely part of it. I think it depends on the brand and the product. We did some work for a product that Nivea was introducing that was new to the U.S. And we were able to put a deal together with the "Tyra Banks Show" around its launch. Because we chose a specific show, we were definitely able to look at the sales impact of that branded-entertainment deal to the product. But that's because it was a new product.
M&V: Any instances where such program-to-sales metrics are still tricky to determine?
Mr. McCarter: Pepsi's also one of our clients, and even if you do a large deal with a Pepsi, it's very difficult to point to a sales response from one marketing initiative given the volume of a brand like Pepsi. So I think sales, in my mind, it depends on the size of a brand in regards to how much impact one deal can have on sales. But clients will bring in third-party research companies to do qualitative research. We've done a few deals where a client will bring a company like a Hall & Partners who do a very in-depth study on awareness, or brand benefits relative to an entertainment property.
M&V: Now that there's more pressure on the TV networks to deliver commercial engagement with more accountable measurement from Nielsen, how does branded entertainment hold up for clients in a C3 universe?
Mr. McCarter: The networks, and it's been a couple years now, see these kind of integrated, branded-entertainment deals as a means to get a bigger percent of budgets. That's why you're seeing the cable and the broadcast networks trying to make integration-cum-marketing deals not just as part of upfront deals and scatter deals but as part of media deals. These days it's part of a common currency of television buying, what you're going to get on the branded-entertainment side.
M&V: Any networks in particular who've become good partners for you?
Mr. McCarter: NBC is an obvious one, and moving their upfront schedule up this year helped out a lot. With Ben's [Ben Silverman, co-chairman, NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio] mentality, they've been able to put some pretty unique things together. We have a good relationship with Ben and our group and with OMD. The cable networks are all open for these kinds of deals, and we do a lot of work with Bravo, Turner and others.