Brian Terkelsen of MediaVest Works to Reinvent the :30 Spot

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Who: Brian Terkelsen, senior vice president and director of entertainment marketing at MediaVest USA.

Why you need to know him: A co-founder of Eco-Challenge with Mark Burnett, Mr. Terkelsen is
Brian Terkelsen, senior vice president and director of entertainment marketing at MediaVest USA.

in charge of creating branded entertainment projects for MediaVest’s clients and developed what he calls the “showmercial,” a program that airs within a program. “It’s original content that incorporates brand equities and airs in commercial time."

Credentials: Before joining MediaVest in 2003, Mr. Terkelsen spent six years as general manager of Be Here Technologies, overseeing the sales, marketing and production groups and the sale of broadcast services to Entertainment Tonight, NBC, the National Basketball Association, the 2002 Winter Olympics and HBO Sports. Before that, he was group general manager of Quokka Sports, where he negotiated programming deals in the adventure and sailing space -- an area he knows something about. In 1992, he co-founded Eco-Challenge Lifestyles with Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice, The Contender), which introduced the sport of adventure racing to TV and corporate sponsors. He served as executive producer on MTV’s Eco-Challenge and produced the Eco-Challenge for ESPN’s Extreme Games. He co-produced Discovery Channel’s Eco-Challenge on-site in British Columbia in 1996 and Australia in 1997. He began his career as an investment banker.

Who are MediaVest’s clients?: Procter & Gamble Co., Kraft, Masterfoods, Coca-Cola Co., Continental, Heineken, Earthlink, NBC, Activision, UBS and Capital One.

What kind of branded entertainment projects has MediaVest recently done?: The MediaVest Entertainment Marketing Group introduced its first “showmercial” concept in May 2004 with Lifetime Kick Off Your Shoes, produced together with the Lifetime cable network and P&G. Similar showmercials followed, including an animated short film called Working Wonders that aired on the WB before Thanksgiving. The group also partnered with Paramount Television’s newsmagazine Entertainment Tonight to produce a one-hour special called Red Carpet Confidential that aired on CBS. It’s also integrated brands into reality and scripted shows such as CBS’ Survivor, UPN’s America’s Next Top Model and the WB’s What I Like About You.

What are you ultimately trying to accomplish with branded entertainment?: “My personal objective is to reinvent the impact of the [30-second ad] unit. What that entails is an acute aesthetic and a keen understanding of multiple platforms. You've got to be part ad-guy, part storyteller and part futurist in order to successfully and seamlessly partner messages without compromising the story.”

There’s been a lot of discussion lately on how exactly branded entertainment deals get made. There still doesn’t seem to be one formula that works better than another. Why is that?: “Branded entertainment is about the art and science behind innovation and deal making. Madison is a business built on exact rigor. We don't make mistakes. We know consumer insights. We price aggressively, we buy aggressively. We measure, we test, we plan. We don't 'trust' gut instinct. Vine is a business built of calculated failure. For example, I'll make 10 pictures or pilots, and yet only one of them has to be the billion-dollar hit. It's a business that rewards creative individuals talented enough to know in their gut what product will resonate with the public. Vine places bets on sure things. At the end of the day, when Quentin Tarantino or Matt [Damon} and Ben [Affleck] come from nowhere and knock the ball out of the park, we snatch them up with a studio deal large enough to choke a horse and then hope they can do it again. While Vine bravely throws pasta against the wall to see what will stick, Madison calculates and weighs all the variables to see how it can make it stick. Every single piece of it.”

Does a formula really need to exist?: “Who says we need a formula for deal making? Conversely, who say's there isn't a formula in place already? At the end of the day, we should be focused on the artistic execution of a brand strategy that should be creative in nature. Truth is, there isn't really a Madison and Vine business model. It's how you chose to determine and equate percentages of value from each respective world. The messiness in our space today is that Madison and Vine haven't been so intricately dependent upon each other for their futures since the beginning of TV.”

Where do you see the pricing and evaluation of branded entertainment deals heading?: “More new players entering the entertainment marketing arena will result in pricing inflation challenging long-established valuation metrics for opportunities. Remember, branded entertainment isn't new. It’s what funded early television and has been present ever since. I view branded entertainment as a tactic inside of a strategy. As such, I don't know if there's a big enough business behind the separate tactics to warrant an entirely separate business model.”

Is there a benefit in using a boutique shop to broker integration deals?: “If a company or brand doesn't have access to the networks, cable nets or to producers because of their size, I think a boutique firm could make perfect sense. But, as most large brands have direct access to the networks or suppliers through their media agencies, it could be deemed redundant -- and more costly -- to add others to the process. Additionally, if a brand is working within the parameters of an integrated communication plan where objectives come first -- Where do I want to be tomorrow? -- and tactics -- How can I get there, starting today? -- follow, it would be reverse engineering to identify an opportunity without knowing the overall brand strategy or budgets. If you’re not inside the brand strategy, you’re not equipped to develop informed tactics. I can’t imagine brand managers want to share critical brand strategy with someone that could work with his or her competitor the next day.”

What keeps you up at night?: “After working a typical 12 hour day, the five hours of TV I've got to watch to remain current.”

What do you do on your downtime?: “Sleep, sail, ski, repeat.”
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