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Q&A: MindShare Entertainment's David Lang

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As media agencies continue their transition toward leading brand strategy with digital integration and branded entertainment, MediaWorks checks in with some of the players charged with making it happen.
David Lang
David Lang

David Lang, an Emmy-award winning producer recently was named president of MindShare Entertainment -- one of several promotions the company announced to accommodate the growth of branded entertainment in media-services agencies.

Mr. Lang, who joined MindShare Entertainment in 2005 as director-programming, worked on projects such as "In the Motherhood," a multichannel program sponsored by Sprint and Unilever's Suave brand that featured user-inspired content for moms. Mr. Lang also worked on "The Rookie," a web-based series inspired by Fox's show "24" for Unilever's Degree deodorant.

Prior to joining MindShare, Mr. Lang worked as senior VP-development and production, at Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video. Previously, he was a producer of "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," where he was awarded an Emmy. Mr. Lang has also worked at Al Burton Productions as a development consultant and director of communications.

MediaWorks: What's an example of branded entertainment that's worked, and why was it successful?

David Lang: What makes [campaigns] successful [for us] is we always create based on an insight, based on analytics, and then we create an entertainment campaign out of that. So we always make sure that what we create is focused on the brand messaging and positioning of clients.

In the case of "In the Motherhood," one of the insights was that moms were looking for entertainment online. The internet is increasingly becoming a place for moms to talk, to be a part of a community and decompress. So we used those insights in creating the entertainment component as well as our community component of "In the Motherhood."

MediaWorks: What is the best way for marketers to take advantage of user-generated content?

Mr. Lang: I don't know if there is a best way. In the case of "In the Motherhood," we were able to use the phenomenon of user-generated content, but mitigate any downside because we had professional writers take the user-generated stories and polish them before incorporating them into our scripted episodes starring [actress] Leah Remini. So we had real-life experiences from a mom in city X brought to life by a professional script writer and top name talent.

MediaWorks: How has branded entertainment evolved?

Mr. Lang: Earlier this year, we did a deal with Fox studios with "24" where we created a new character called "The Rookie" ... and this character was based on the brand message and position of Degree, but it was also right for the brand of "24." So we basically turned the integration model on its head in that we didn't integrate Degree within the show. We were able to leverage all the assets of the show outside the show and create new custom content for our clients. That was a very different model of integration.

MediaWorks: So it sounds as if branded entertainment has grown up a bit?

Mr. Lang: The whole world of branded entertainment or content marketing is just going to grow due to all the factors in the marketplace, from fragmentation to breaking though the clutter to broadband hitting critical mass. Clients are looking for new and different ways to reach their target consumers and engage them.

The past couple of years it's been about engagement and emotional connection, but this past year, we have two examples where we have taken integration a huge step forward and actually been able to show an increase in sales.
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