Sundance First: Net Hires Exec To Sell Advertisers Branded Entertainment

Sundance Channel, the Robert Redford-linked network that supplies provocative programming, is making advertisers an offer they can't refuse: a role in its creative lineup. The network has hired Kimberly Gabelmann, formerly of Comedy Central, to take the reins as vice president of branded entertainment and sponsorship. She comes on board four months before the network launches the new initiative.

Gabelmann will be responsible for generating advertiser interest in Sundance's shift from an ad-free network to an outlet where marketers can purchase "brought to you by" sponsorships. They will also have an opportunity to integrate their brands and products into original programming.

Gabelmann, who was director of new business development at Comedy Central, will help spearhead sponsorship and branded entertainment sales across multiple Sundance Channel properties, including online, VOD and wireless. She will also work with Kirk Iwanowski, executive vice president of marketing, branded entertainment and sponsorship, in creating a dedicated sales team.



"Kim's substantial experience in business development is essential to our move into the sponsorship arena," says Iwanowski, "and we are thrilled to have her on board during this exciting transition."

The sponsorship model, which has some similarities to PBS, will begin in January. Branded entertainment is a new arena for the network, with programming that includes coverage of the annual Sundance Film Festival and reality shows such as "The Hill," which focus on the inside operations of Congressman Robert Wexler's office.

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