LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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The Association of Independent Commercial Producers, at its Brand Integration Honors last month, announced, "The future is here: The integration of branded messages into content and entertainment." While the "future" had some technical difficulties, the showcase of branded integration (another round of BMW Films, a Budweiser "film" and two popular game/talent TV shows) raised two important questions. Is branded entertainment actually relevant to the commercial production industry, and if so, is it a viable business?

The objective of branded entertainment is not the seamless melding of product and story line. That's the strategy. The objective, as Bartle Bogle Hegarty's John Hegarty said, is to make brands famous. And as he suggested, ideas for successful branded entertainment can come from anywhere. This scraps the traditional regime of creative commercial development and is an invitation for production companies to innovate and provide new value to agencies and their clients.

The AICP celebrates the art and technique of commercials, the execution of content. The art and technique of branded entertainment is not so much about the content. It's the choreography of strategic, creative and business ideas that produce a new marketing vehicle that consumers want to watch.

Branded entertainment is not a market; it's a laboratory. Getting to market requires R&D, investment, and partnership. So clients, agencies and creative production companies need to invent a development process. One will emerge (it hasn't yet), and if the principal players in the traditional commercial production process want to be a part of it, they'll obviously have to bring new and perti- nent creative services. Otherwise, new alliances and resources will supplant them to get the job done.

Branded-entertainment successes will come from a close partnership of producers that understand brands, popular entertainment and the relevance of both to consumers. The challenge facing the ad industry and production companies is not a dearth of good ideas. It is the daunting task of learning to work together in a more consistent, protracted, experimental and profitable way. That will avoid the current "hail Mary" approach to branded entertainment, offer the fruits of the creative property itself, create vital new business relationships, modulate the volatile commercial production market and, of course, ultimately serve clients. That is a future worth pursuing.

Michael Quinn

Creative/Special Projects

Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners

New York

Who's best as CEO? Gender not the issue

I cut my teeth as a headhunter, and ran a PR agency dedicated to serving the staffing industry. Those experiences in talent management taught me there is no science to hiring-wishful thinking from several parties aside. That's why Rance Crain's "Who is best for CEO suite? Here's case for women at top" (Viewpoint, AA, July 14), while well-laid-out and based on reason, is still silly. Some men are great leaders. Some women are great leaders. All other speculation is just that: speculative social theory with little to do concerning quality leadership.

Vince Bank

Senior Account Executive

Spaner Marketing Communications

Canton, Ohio

Garfield was on target about Humvee drivers

My son (B Co., 2-503rd, 173rd Airborne) just logged 100 days in Iraq. Every time I see someone in a Humvee (or "camo" clothing or wearing fake dog tags) it makes me really cranky. Sadly, I don't have a forum that allows me to call them "jerks." But I'm so glad Bob Garfield did ("Hummer campaign effectively reaches target audience: jerks," AdReview, AA, July 7).

Linda Bean

East Brusnwick, N.J.

Hummer's ads playing off 'get-out-of-my-way' image

The Hummer Ad Review was right on "Hummer campaign effectively reaches target audience: jerks," Ad Review, AA, July 7). Its previous ads also reinforced the selfish jerk with the "above-it-all-get-out-of-my-way" syndrome.

Kevin Shea

Hopkinton, Mass.

The FCC was right to change media rules

In "Forget FCC rules: Bumbling moguls limit their own power" (Viewpoint, AA, June 2), Scott Donaton scores a direct hit. The federal government will never be as qualified or efficient as the marketplace in determining whether or not a media enterprise is acting in the public interest. Investors and consumers are, after all, the public, and we reward any enterprise that behaves in our interest by investing and/or buying its services. I would think that discipline, plus existing antitrust regulation, are sufficient protection. They seem to work in every other industry well enough.

Jud Spangler

West Chester, Pa.

Correction

In the table "Domestic advertising spending by category" (100 Leading National Advertisers Special Report, June 23, P. S-14), the data in the columns marked "U.S. measured media breakout for 2002" are incorrect. The data published in those columns are actually for 2001. A revised table containing 2002 data can be found on AdAge.com QwikFIND aao86n.

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