GREY'S PROPHECY: INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT

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Prophecy Entertainment wants "shelf space in the consumer consciousness."

That's the shared vision of Russ Collins and Sheri Herman, co-founders of the Marina Del Rey, Calif., company hoping to find a niche in a potentially huge arena: interactive consumer marketing services.

With projects for U S West and Hilton Hotels Corp. in the works, "Our objective is not just to develop products for online services, CD-ROMs and interactive television," said Mr. Collins, Prophecy's chairman. "We want to develop a consumer franchise, actually own a piece of emotional real estate."

The year-old, eight-person company is an outgrowth of Fattal & Collins, an entertainment marketing subsidiary of Grey Advertising. Grey owns a "sizable" piece of Prophecy, said Mr. Collins, also a partner in Fattal.

Ms. Herman, Prophecy president-CEO, is a former senior VP-marketing at E! Entertainment Television. The pair met when Ms. Herman, in charge of E!'s agency review several years ago, invited Fattal & Collins to join the pitch. She awarded the account to BBDO Worldwide, Los Angeles, but was so impressed with Mr. Collins as "a marketing mind" that when he returned with an invitation to work on an interactive sales film for U S West-a preliminary version of U S West's GOtv interactive entertainment channel-she "knew it was the right opportunity."

Now Prophecy is working on the interactive front. The company's banner project is GOtv, to be deployed next year on Time Warner's Full Service Network in Orlando and U S West's interactive TV test in Omaha.

U S West is already testing the GOtv pilot, consisting of a main show to be hosted by a celebrity couple as well as local dining, event and movie information.

"The look is somewhere between conservative and wacky," said Nancy Bruner, executive producer and creative director at U S West. "It's whimsical and high energy, but definitely wouldn't offend a non-MTV audience."

Details of the Hilton project, an interactive in-room TV service, are still under wraps, as are Prophecy's negotiations with other clients. The company is also developing its own proprietary projects, like "Chanimal," an interactive information and shopping service for pet lovers.

Prophecy's biggest challenge may be attracting advertisers to the company's projects. GOtv, a project U S West hopes will have 10 to 15 advertisers, so far has only one, Visa International.

"We're looking for people like us," Mr. Collins said. "Early prospectors who know the real estate may not be worth a lot in 1995, but it will be priceless in 1999."

GOtv is close to signing an automotive advertiser, said Ted Robinson, director of new media at U S West. Sponsorships range from $75,000 to $125,000.

Participating marketers will be featured in what Mr. Robinson calls an "advitation," a message up to 30 seconds long on GOtv.

Because of Fattal's evolution and its founders' backgrounds-Ms. Herman is also the former president of sales and marketing at the short-lived Fashion Channel, bought by QVC last year-Prophecy bills itself as a "fusion of entertainment and marketing expertise."

Fattal & Collins, an 11-year-old agency, has concentrated on marketing and collateral projects for films like "Dances With Wolves" and "Sleeping With the Enemy," though last year it moved into the non-entertainment arena by picking up both the Gold's Gym account and collateral work for Nissan Motor Cars USA's Infiniti.

Prophecy's corner offices, adjacent to those of Fattal & Collins and lined with the agency's movie posters, are meant to function more like a TV production company than an ad agency.

Along with an in-house writer, director, graphic artist and business planner, Prophecy also plans to use free-lancers and outside production companies.

Prophecy is trying to create programming that "reaches out and grabs the consumer," Mr. Collins said. "We need to be competitive with `Roseanne' in order to capture, hook and hold an audience for the purpose of selling them something. If people aren't engaged and entertained, they'll go away."

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