Branded Entertainment: Plus For Marketers, Shrug For TV Producers

Calling for more branded entertainment means someone is getting rich -- but not producers.

"It isn't changing our lives in terms of economics," said 20th Century Fox Television Co-President Gary Newman, speaking at the Hollywood Radio & Television Society's Newsmaker Luncheon this week.

This brings up the question: Who is benefiting from branded entertainment? 

Some TV executives would say Mark Burnett, with his host of reality shows "Survivor" and "The Apprentice," is the major exception to most TV producers.

But for an individual TV producer, doing branded entertainment deals winds up more as a courtesy to the network.

Even NBC's programming chief Ben Silverman, who as an independent producer brought in branded entertainment partners such as restaurant chain Chili's for "The Office," would never say marketers are the main reason for the existence of a show.



It makes marketers feel good -- especially if they are spending gobs on real, traditionally boring TV media time. Marketers continue to say they can prove benefits.  But producers merely shrug their shoulders.

If you don't believe Fox's Newman, how about Dick Wolf, creator of the "Law & Order" franchise, who in his previous life worked in the advertising business -- for the likes of Procter & Gamble. His remarks might resonate.

Wolf doesn't believe in the future of product integration. "I never bought it. I don't think it is a legitimate stream," he said.

No stream. No Tide. No Folgers for "Law & Order."  When does Sam Waterson's character wash his clothes? Drink his coffee?

Producers will say everything needs to be organic. But organic takes time and doesn't happen every day. It happens at its own slow and natural pace.

Slow and natural aren't common words in conducting TV business; those words also don't mean any real money for producers.




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