Robert Schneider's New Role in Davie-Brown Entertainment

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Who: Robert Schneider, exec VP, Davie-Brown Entertainment.

Why you need to know him: Based in Los Angeles, Mr. Schneider oversees everything from promotional consulting to product integration and branded entertainment projects for such clients as Pepsi-Cola, Yahoo, Cisco Systems, Hewlett‑Packard and Sony PlayStation.

Robert Schneider, exec VP, Davie-Brown Entertainment.

Credentials: Mr. Schneider most recently served as senior VP, worldwide corporate promotions at Warner Bros., where he created corporate alliances with companies such as Frito-Lay, General Motors and Coca-Cola for the company’s consumer products, theatrical, home video, TV and other Time Warner divisions. Before that, he managed the McDonald’s account at Chicago-based agency Frankel & Co. as senior VP-management representative.

You've worked at a studio. Now that you're on the other side of the gate, what advice do you have for brands trying to partner with Hollywood? “Define your expectations upfront, be flexible, have a good idea of what your tactical execution will be prior to cutting a deal, be willing to say no and walk away.”

Davie‑Brown is known for its product placement work. Will you be working to move your clients beyond that? “Absolutely, our heritage has been in product placement, but we evolved the agency into entertainment strategy and consulting a long time ago and most of our clients have evolved with us,
venturing into product integration as well as branded content. We are also involved in deal negotiation and promotional consulting. Our celebrity outreach and seeding activity has picked up dramatically in the last year.”

Does product placement still have value? “It has huge value when you consider the life cycle of the content that you are placed in. Most television shows will have a double run during the season, and the more successful shows will run on cable and eventually end up in syndication. The placement doesn't go away; it stays imbedded in the content, leading to greater exposure over time. Entertainment content is also sold to overseas markets so global brands get the extra bang there as well. Movie placements offer a great life span across all the channels it will run in, including international, home video, pay cable, airlines, network, pay-per-view, cable. The exposure that the original placement gained grows over time as the content repeats across the various channels of distribution.”

How do you measure its success? “That seems to be the $64,000 question in our business today. We have our own measurement system that we report to our clients and we are exploring those services that are out there now.”

Television has been giving products a lot more exposure lately through integrations and marketing around the shows. Why haven't the movie studios been making it work for brands as effectively? “Sometimes product exposure and integration in movies is off the charts, like the Mini Cooper in The Italian Job. Marketing and sales in the TV space is much more involved in the process of placement and integration. Movie studios typically have a production resources department that handles placement and they may not be closely aligned to the marketing function.”

What are some challenges that still need to be addressed when it comes to co‑promotions and partnerships with brands? “Content providers need to better understand the marketing muscle that brands bring to the table beyond television support. Most big brands spend across a broad spectrum of media channels and their packaging offers a messaging capability to reach the consumer where the content provider can't.”

How do you define branded entertainment? “I view it as entertainment that is original content created specifically to enhance the image of the brand. That could be done in an organic or overt manner. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people using the words branded entertainment as a catchall for all of the entertainment marketing activities that have been utilized for years.”

What's your most memorable industry experience? “I have many over the years, in the recent past it would be pitching J.K. Rowling promotional partners for the first Harry Potter movie.”

Who are your industry mentors? “At my age I ran out of mentors and hopefully I am considered one by others.”

What's on your TiVo?Rome, Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm and any
television episodes my friend Elodie Keane directs.”

What's on your iPod? “Classic rock, Van Morrison and jazz.”

What do you do on your downtime? “Attend yoga classes and hike with my wife, enjoy fine wine and food, golf.”