GUIDING BRANDS INTO THE WORLD OF ENTERTAINMENT

How Cory Isaacson Smooths the Way for Marketers

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Name: Cory Isaacson

Age: 35

Who he is: Vice president for strategic marketing of Radiate Entertainment Group. Mr. Isaacson joined the marketing services network of the Omnicom
Cory Isaacson, vice president for strategic marketing at Radiate Entertainment Group.

Group agency in May after being a partner of the now-defunct Entertainment Marketing of Chicago. He is working to build Omnicom's entertainment practice.

What he does: "The entertainment world outside of branding and marketing is filled with a lot of diverse characters. Many have different agendas in the entertainment space. Meanwhile, marketing corporations don't exactly understand how to navigate the entertainment world. I've seen a lot of brands get burned in music and different forms of entertainment. There's so much cool stuff going on now; marketers need to know how to use video games, theater and gaming and film and other technology; they need to know why they should be in it and then how to get in it correctly. We're like their GPS navigation system for that. We solely build brands through entertainment practice and help them get plugged in. We help them build a strategic platform, activation plan and an ROI [return on investment] measurement process. We look at a brand from a clean slate and ask what the marketer wants to accomplish. Then we build a strategy using the star power that entertainment provides."

Track record: "I started out in the sports arena years ago, leveraging athletes and teams and properties in the sports world for corporations and then got into the entertainment space and did a lot of music marketing and film tie-ins. I worked for Zucker Sports, working with Deion Sanders, Jim McMahon and Dee Brown. Then worked for Lazin Group with the NFL Players Association, the NBA and representing athletes. Then I moved to Entertainment Marketing."

Most notable projects: Hanes Hosiery endorsement contract with Tina Turner; Burger King's sponsorship of the Backstreet Boys; and Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser True Music campaign.

Freshest project right now: "Strategic consulting for The Ride New York, an entertainment entity now in development for launch in 2006. It is one of the most organically integrated entertainment properties I've ever seen. You sit on a bus traveling through the city and while sitting there you have all this stimulus coming at you [from a massive screen on one side of the bus and outside the bus from actors creating planned scenes and reacting to unplanned events]. It takes the coolest aspects of live theater, video-gaming, film and technology and wraps them into this unbelievable story that is going to be unveiled in a way never done before for consumers. It has elements of branded entertainment using different forms of branded films and different aspects that can take people to retail. We're looking for a technology partner, an automotive partner, a wireless partner and banking partner/finance partner.

How does this work?: "The show is called live by the producer in the bus, so he has to accommodate things happening in front of him. Each bus has its own producer. The cast would be 35 to 40 actors on the street that will have mobile changing stations."

The future of branded entertainment?: "Branded entertainment will continue to evolve and get smarter. It's a lump of clay right now. Once you get more masterful people working on branded entertainment, it's going to be more performance driven. People now are thinking, 'Let's have a strategy when we do a TV show.' Branded entertainment could take so many forms. ... There is so much technology and new [properties] out there that ... the most agile, aggressive smart thinkers have huge opportunities."

Who will be the big winners?: "The big winners will be the people who stay focused on what they do best. We had a cereal company once that wanted to produce a music tour instead of sponsoring a show because they thought they could make the money [from producing it]. I said to them you're really good at making cereal and I think you should stay with making cereal. You can be hugely profitable by using entertainment without producing a show or taking a risk on things you don't know how to analyze. The benefits are still going to be there without you putting up the money. Marketers are flirting with the idea of producing a show with their brand as the content. But they are getting out of their sphere of core expertise. I personally would be turned off by brand trying to make their brand the content rather than leverage attributes of the brand. Brands getting involved in content need to be supplemental to the content. Brands need to be careful and spend a lot of time thinking about how they want to do that."