Burger King, Sprint Production Co. Moving Into TV

MDC Partners, the holding company whose portfolio spans from direct mail to crafting ads for Burger King, is moving into TV production. The company has formed a quasi-studio that already has a show lined up on Bravo.

MDC has a majority stake in Shout Media, newly structured with producer Michael Rourke, who oversaw a run of syndicated court shows for Sony Pictures Television. Along with producing traditional TV series, Shout will develop branded entertainment content for clients represented by MDC shops.

The partnership has roots in work that MDC's public-relations agency HL Group did with Rourke.

The Bravo reality series "Pregnant in Heels" focuses on a high-end Manhattan maternity expert who advises on baby showers, nursery decorations and other matters. Rourke had begun work on the show before linking with MDC. Bravo has announced a pick-up, but not a launch date.

Rourke, who serves as Shout's CEO, also has developed programming for the soon-to-be Oprah Winfrey Network and Fox.



Shout's branded-content work is expected to stretch across multiple platforms, whether created for Domino's Pizza (represented by agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky) or Delta Air Lines (Media Kitchen).

Miles Nadal, MDC's CEO, stated that marketers are "consistently seeking new and inventive platforms to deliver immersive brand engagement, entertainment and ongoing interaction with consumers."

Branded-entertainment arms at holding companies have produced network content before -- notably, a Mindshare unit (part of WPP) backing a 2009 short-lived ABC comedy as a vehicle for clients Suave and Sprint. But investing in traditional production -- with its many risks -- is unusual.

Sprint, meanwhile, is MDC's largest client. The company works with the telecom giant in below-the-line activities, such as customer-relationship marketing. Last year, Sprint generated an estimated $87 million in revenue for MDC -- down from $111 million in 2008, according to a government filing.

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