Media Distribution Includes TV, Web and Cellphones

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LOS ANGELES ( -- Branding guru Peter Arnell is jumping into the content production business through a newly inked deal with News Corp.’s Fox Television Studios. But the resulting content won’t just be for TV, but also for the Internet, cellphones and other distribution platforms.
Peter Arnell is moving into the branded entertainment business.

There are no projects yet to discuss, a Fox spokeswoman said. Mr. Arnell did not return phone calls for comment.

The chairman-CEO of Omnicom Group’s Arnell Group has launched brands such as DKNY and Rbk, bartered the much-maligned Celine Dion deal with Chrysler Group, and created memorable marriages between marketers and entertainment, such as Ray-Ban with “Men in Black” and Jeep with “Band of Brothers.”

Global distribution
The deal with Fox, producer of shows such as “The Shield,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Inked,” is intended to create content that will be distributed globally. “We believe there is tremendous opportunity as we team up to create content for TV, new media and emerging digital platforms,” said Fox TV Studios President Angela Shapiro-Mathes.

Mr. Arnell, whose deal is non-exclusive, in a statement released by Fox said the alliance will allow the partners to “identify the areas that will provide the utmost in appeal to consumers and to create lateral marketing and entertainment strategies that are effective in building brands and businesses.”

Fox TV Studios produces scripted and reality shows, short-run series and movies of the week for broadcast and cable channels. Ms. Shapiro-Mathes took over about a year and a half ago with the mandate of looking in nontraditional places for production partners and source material.

Crispin Porter deal
This spring she made a first-look deal with MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter & Bogusky, the cutting-edge ad agency that recently created the Subservient Chicken and other infamous Burger King campaigns. Ms. Shapiro-Mathes said at the time that it’s important to the studio to look in “varied arenas” for talented people and new ideas. No projects have yet come to fruition from the Crispin Porter deal, though there are a number of ideas in the works.

Marketers are increasingly looking for ways outside traditional ad campaigns to get their message to consumers, and embedding products and services into entertainment is an ever-popular means to that end. Ad agencies and media-buying firms are looking for opportunities on behalf of their clients, with some opting for one-off deals and others making longer alliances with networks and production companies.

WPP Group’s MindShare Entertainment is working with Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network to produce advertiser-backed, brand-embedded programming. A short-run series called “The Days,” financed by Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Unilever, was a hit with viewers during its summer 2004 run. There are plans to do more such shows. MindShare also worked with CBS on the Christmas special “Say When” with Joe Mantegna and Jean Smart. Advertisers funded the movie.

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