Madison + Vine: IPG sets up branded-content shop

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Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative is setting up shop in the branded-entertainment space, continuing to cement the dominant role media agencies are taking in a hot area that has been virtually ignored by their creative brethren.

Initiative Innovations will be headed by Alan Cohen, a longtime TV and studio marketing executive, who will be exec VP-managing partner at the unit.

Most of the major media agencies have been aggressive in entering the branded entertainment space. They enjoy an advantage over other middlemen, including talent agencies and entertainment consultants, in large part because they have easier access to marketers' budgets.

"We'll be looking to build programs that help clients get closer to consumers who can edit out what they don't want to see," said Mr. Cohen, who is based in Los Angeles. "Whether that means buzz marketing, new technology platforms like wireless or video games, or brand integration into content, we want to be a marketing resource."

Aegis Group's Carat also recently announced a unit, Carat Entertainment, that will seek out brand-integration opportunities for such clients as Procter & Gamble Co., Pfizer, Adidas, Philips and Black & Decker. Michael Yudin, a veteran producer, heads that division.

Those already populating the space include WPP's MindShare Entertainment, Omnicom Group's Full Circle Entertainment and Magna Global Entertainment.

Initiative Innovations clients include America Online, Coors Brewing Co. and Home Depot.

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