Horizon Media and A&E Networks have a whole lot of incentive to see a European flower brand succeed in the U.S. Not only have the agency and TV programmer partnered for a branded content deal that introduces Frederique's Choice to the states, but both have a stake in the brand.
The future of TV ad deals may start to look a lot more like the way the new FYI Network series, "HomeGrown Makeover with Frederique and Carter" came together.
The series, which bowed on Jan. 9, brightens up greenery-deprived living spaces with flower and plant solutions. It stars Frederique van der Wal, founder of Frederique's Choice, along with designer Carter Oosterhouse.
The series isn't a blatant plug for the company, which offers customers flowers direct from growers; instead the goal is to introduce Ms. van der Wal as a flower expert and lifestyle personality, said Bill Koenigsberg, president, CEO and founder, Horizon Media.
For all the talk around digital, TV is still the best way to scale up a brand's exposure quickly, Mr. Koenigsberg said.
FYI will air 10 half-hour episodes of the series in the first quarter.
As TV networks increasingly search for ways to clean up the commercial clutter that has become the norm over the last several years, long-form branded-content is one way to reduce the number of ad breaks.
"HomeGrown Makeover" will air with a limited commercial load, said Mel Berning, president-chief revenue officer, A&E Networks.
"This is one of the prime motivations in creating deeper relationships with advertisers," he said. "It helps us create an environment with a lot less interruption and breaks in content."
"HomeGrown Makeover" airs on Saturday mornings rather than in a prime-time slot. But A&E Networks believe parts of the day outside prime time have some untapped potential.
"We see the opportunity to do this kind of programming in lots of non-prime dayparts," Mr. Berning said, adding that they may not attract a very large audience at once, but they do bring in viewers who are engaged and valuable for certain brands.
The success of "HomeGrown Makeover" won't necessarily be measured by ratings. While viewership continues to be a gauge, Mr. Koenigsberg said they will be measuring search results, site visits, and of course, an uptick in sales.
Mr. Koenigsberg said he pitched FYI on the idea because the channel "has a built-in audience that fits our target customer."
What makes this deal unique is both Horizon Media and A&E Networks have a stake in Frederique's Choice, which means both partners have an incentive to grow the company.
Mr. Koenigsberg said he saw a white space in the U.S. market for an upscale flower brand that has a personality behind it.
Deals of this nature could present TV networks and publishers a way to more deeply engrain themselves in the sectors they represent, Mr. Koenigsberg said.
He used Travel Channel as an example: "Why shouldn't Travel Channel do more in the travel sector than just TV shows?"
By investing in and using their assets to promote brands, "this can help media companies monetize their assets in new ways," Mr. Koenigsberg added.
The hope is "HomeGrown Makeover" will be picked up for a second season, but Mr. Koenigsberg also thinks there could be potential for FYI to utilize Ms. van der Wal in other content.
"Ratings are always important and how many people we are reaching will still be important for marketers," Mr. Berning said. "But moving to the forefront of conversations is who the viewers are and how engaged they are with the content, which creates a more valuable audience."