P&G's Max Factor is at the center "Blush," as contestants compete for a contract with the cosmetics company as a professional makeup artist, in addition to a $100,000 cash prize and a gig as a makeup artist for an InStyle magazine photo shoot. MediaVest co-produced the show with IMG Entertainment, along with executive producers Laura Fuest, Scott Kramer and Rob Lee.
Brian Terkelsen, exec VP-managing director for Connectivetissue, MediaVest's branded-entertainment unit, said MediaVest's work with P&G in developing extensive ties with branded-entertainment projects over the past five years helped lead his agency to take the role of Hollywood producer on behalf of Max Factor.
"We've had some really good success with this type of close association between brand and show, so it was a natural that any brand who wants to carve a space would want to have a program like this," he said. "The testament here is that the entertainment community is waking up to the fact that some of us who represent brands aren't out to create bad content."
Mr. Terkelsen's team recently developed Kraft Foods' "Trail Mix Crunch Alaskan Adventure Challenge," a series of 90-second mini-sodes telecast during Discovery Channel's spring 2008 Alaska Week. He's also the media mind behind P&G's "My Life as a Cover Girl," a 45-second branded show within "America's Next Top Model" that premiered in 2005.
Mr. Lee, head of programming for IMG Global Media, said broadcast and cable networks' increased openness to allowing brands in on the creative process of their shows -- particularly reality programming -- has enabled agencies such as MediaVest to take leadership roles in the development process.
"Even before I was at IMG, I went out [pitching] with sponsored shows, and it didn't always equal a [non-sponsored] show [pitched] for the networks," he said. "I think the environment is finally changing because the economics overall are changing."
Making a case
Plus, the easier advertisers can make their case for having their own show, the better. "This is a makeup competition series, and you've got Max Factor. You don't have to stretch the creative process and put a square peg in a round hole," Mr. Lee said. "I think we've done a very good job of getting the message of our sponsor across without having to change one iota."
Max Factor will be integrated into "every element of the show," said Mr. Lee, from product integration to a branded makeup studio.
"Blush" was originally designed to air as a companion series to "Project Runway," which Lifetime acquired from Bravo earlier this year in a messy transaction with the Weinstein Co. The deal promptly triggered a lawsuit from Bravo's parent company, NBC Universal, which was granted a preliminary injunction last week that prohibits Lifetime from promoting or marketing its new season of "Runway" until Oct. 15.
The six-episode series will be hosted by "General Hospital" vet Vanessa Marcil, featuring InStyle fashion director Hal Rubenstein and author/makeup artist Joanna Schlip as judges. Charlie Green, a makeup artist for Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks and Elizabeth Hurley, will play the role of "Project Runway" 's Tim Gunn and serve as mentor to the contestants.