GETTING PRODUCTS WRITTEN DIRECTLY INTO TV SCRIPTS

Stuart Shlossman Leaps From Masterfoods USA to Madison Road

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Who: Stuart Shlossman, senior vice president, media and client development for branded integration firm Madison Road. After helping Masterfoods USA integrate its new M-azing chocolate bar into NBC's The Apprentice, he recently joined Los Angeles-based Madison Road to open its East Coast office (initially out of
Stuart Shlossman was an agency media buyer and marketing services commercial manager for Masterfoods USA before joining Madison Road.

his home in New Jersey). His foray into branded entertainment, he said, is a continuation of a media career in which his "source of biggest fulfillment" has been helping marketers communicate beyond the pre-produced commercial.

Credentials: A longtime agency media buyer, Mr. Shlossman most recently served as the former marketing services commercial manager for Masterfoods USA.

What led you to step out of the traditional agency/marketer world to enter a virtual start-up in the new world of branded entertainment? "This isn't something I went looking for, it landed in my lap. But really it's something I've been doing just because I've believed in it all my life. Back at BBDO [as a media supervisor] we did early deals with Comedy Central and MTV for Pepsi, and at DDB we developed a tie-in with McDonald's and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? [At Masterfoods] I had been working with Madison Road since April, since they had been hired by The Apprentice to bring companies in for branded integration. We signed on for our new M-azing bar. The show [featuring M-azing] aired on Thursday and we got a big boost in sales on Friday, knowing that the only thing that happened was The Apprentice. The same is true for Procter & Gamble with Crest. I believed 10 years ago that branded entertainment worked, I just couldn't prove it."
How can you prove branded entertainment works now? "At Masterfoods, trying to wrap our heads around the branded entertainment arena, we had asked Madison Road if they'd be willing to co-fund a research project trying to put metrics in place because people often have a hard time quantifying this stuff. Now, I'm going to be doing that, in conjunction with other clients, looking to create total accountability in this arena of branded entertainment."

What exactly does Madison Road do? "We work with clients and directly with the producers of programs to integrate brands into the show -- directly into the script based on what marketers tell us are the three things they want us to communicate about the brand. Pfizer recently had its Rolaids written directly into an episode of The Bernie Mac Show in a scene where his wife is having the closet done. It was a perfect time to deliver the message that Rolaids offers relief."

Who are Madison Road's clients? Pfizer, Masterfoods, Levi's, the Sara Lee division of Hanes, Best Buy and Unilever.

What makes you believe companies like Madison Road will succeed? "As long as every example doesn't betray the audience's trust, producers will become more comfortable. One of the things [Madison Road's] founders like to say is, 'It has to be something the audience doesn't notice but is able to remember.' The opportunity for a product or service to be written into the script of a show has to be totally organic. If it's obtrusive then it works against your objective."

Where do you see branded entertainment five years from now? "I believe it will become its own budget line, just like print and commercials. My hope is that media buyers will increasingly move from a 'media plan' to a 'communications plan' that goes beyond just TV, print and radio to include Internet, PR and a lot of nontraditional marketing. A lot of agencies have not bought into that yet and one of my jobs [as the first non-Hollywood Madison Road employee] is to sit down with media agencies and talk to them about how we work and make them part of the process. It isn't about us vs. them, it's another tool in the toolkit."
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