The Sundance Channel has such a deal. It will start a six-part series called the "Iconoclasts," which is being co-produced by Grey Goose Entertainment, the TV production arm of Bacardi's Grey Goose Vodka. Focusing on the creative process, the show will examine two creative innovators from the fields of film, television, architecture, design, fashion, food, music, and sports.
But nowhere is it expected that Grey Goose will make an in-show appearance -- not positioned on a desk next to a cliché drunk writer trying to hammer out one last great screenplay, book, or TV show; not near any musicians playing hard at a night club or an arena; not anywhere near a bar during Fashion Week in New York.
Sundance Channel founder Robert Redford, John Kamen of @radical.media, Michael Davies, and Chris Moore will executive produce the show.
Though Michael Davies has a long history with branded entertainment - having "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" host Regis Philbin utter the phrase, "Let's go to our friends at AT&T" - Grey Goose will not make a branded entertainment appearance on the production.
The Grey Goose marketing connection will be off-air, which means a traditional off-air promotion campaign with in-store signage and a sweepstakes. Grey Goose Entertainment's producing partner, the Conde Nast Media Group, will provide marketing support.
This is a good lesson learned. It seems Grey Goose wants the show to live on its own entertainment merits. If that works, they'll be successful as a TV producer. This isn't about Grey Goose looking to grab hard-core media gross rating points that its brand may be losing due to broadcast erosion or DVR commercial-skipping technology.
Sometimes branded entertainment is best left in the background -- or off-air, and not in the viewers' face. In the case of Sundance, this is a double good thing, since the network doesn't run commercials.
Entertainment marketing veterans might be snickering at the sight of deals such as this one. This isn't branded entertainment, they might say. This is traditional old entertainment marketing -- using marketing tools that have been around for years.