Mondelez Inks Real-Time Marketing Video Deal With NowThis News

Snack Maker's Goal is To React With Video in 10 Minutes

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Mondelez International has struck a deal with video-news provider NowThis News to help create content for an ambitious real-time marketing initiative.

As part of the deal, Mondelez has created "Blink Studios," which the candy-and-snacks marketer describes as "a new-wave digital newsroom, allowing brands to plug in and react in real time with engaging, creative and newsworthy video content."

The program is for the North American market and will cover brands including Halls, belVita, Oreo and Wheat Thins. Mondelez declined to disclose terms of the deal other than to say it was a "long-term" arrangement.

Mondelez has been considered a leader in real-time marketing, as evidenced by Oreo's attention-grabbing Super Bowl tweet in 2013 that set the standard for real-time social media marketing.

But up until now, the company has mostly relied on a campaign approach.

"We've known that an event is going to happen or we know that we have a campaign in market and we're poised and ready to respond," Laura Henderson, Mondelez's associate director-media and communications in the U.S., said in an interview. But "what we haven't been able crack, up until this point, is how do we react when something truly unexpected occurs and how do we do that with rich video content."

With Blink Studios, "instead of responding with a simple copy line or static image, we can actually create, produce and distribute video content very quickly," she added.

The program has been in pilot test mode for the past several weeks. One early brand example is belVita, which sponsors a video-news segment posted on Instagram called "Good Morning Stories" that includes quick clips of trendy stories.

NowThis News was founded by Huffington Post co-founder and former chairman Kenneth Lerer and former Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau. The startup operates from studios in New York and Washington, D.C., specializing in short-form news videos built for mobile and social properties.

Mondelez brand teams have dedicated work space inside the NowThis studio in New York. The marketer has even assigned a lawyer to the project, so that it can quickly navigate any thorny legal issues.

According to the NowThis website, the company "produces over 50 daily video updates for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Vine, YouTube, Android and Apple apps and the mobile web." In January, NBCUniversal News Group announced that it was taking a minority stake in NowThis News and that the two companies would together co-produce short-form news videos.

Mondelez stated that the partnership will allow it to access tools for real-time production, including "24/7 access to production and creative teams whenever stories break," as well as access to cameras, news feeds and social-media algorithms that can predict stories that will be popular.

The partnership is the latest example of marketers seeking to inject their brands into newsy discussions on social media. "These kinds of strategic deals make a lot of sense for companies trying to operate more nimbly," said one digital industry executive about the Mondelez/NowThis deal. But "proof will be in quality of content."

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