Magazine article Variety

Mad Men Meet Marketing Mayhem

Magazine article Variety

Mad Men Meet Marketing Mayhem

Article excerpt

With the advertising world in the midst of more turmoil than ever, today's descendants of the original "Mad men" are eager to become more involved in entertainment content as the digital revolution brings forth scary changes.

Not the least of these: technology that enables audiences to skip ads as they watch movies or TV shows on various devices.

And as the Cannes Lions Inti. Festival of Creativity certainly indicates, the feeling is mutual: Hollywood execs and talent are eager to drill down on the intersection of entertainment and advertising.

Leslie Moonves, Harvey Weinstein, Alejandro G. Inarritu, Oliver Stone, Will Smith and Gwyneth Paltrow are among the growing contingent of executives and entertainers headed to the Cannes confab.

Also making the trek: reps from talent agencies CAA, UTA, and WME - as well as top execs from such digital players as YouTube, Spotify, and Hulu.

They, plus other high-caliber film, TV, and music industry execs, are among some 600 speakers recruited for the eight-day (June 18-25) mega event that highlights ways in which creativity can drive commerce. This year's edition is expected to draw roughly 50,000 people to the Croisette from roughly 100 countries.

"Over the past couple of years, we've gone from mainly marketing and advertising people to having lots from entertainment companies, from Time Warner, to CBS, to Disney, and the music labels," says Lions Festival CEO Philip Thomas.

Thomas is also expecting numerous yachts to sail in for the event, adding a touch of glamour. He describes Lions as "more laid-back" than the Cannes Film Festival, but "just as busy?

Thomas, who just introduced a two-day (June 23-24) entertainment "stream" at the ad fest, points out that "with the advent of ad blocking," there's a much greater need for advertisers to engage consumers. "I think our clients are now looking towards entertainment as a big part of what they do," he says.

Of course, branded entertainment is nothing new. Thomas traces it back to BMW's innovative online short-film series "The Hire," produced by David Fincher and Ridley and Tony Scott in 2001 and 2002.

The latest big brand to make a m^jor move in this arena is PepsiCo. In midMay the company launched a content-creation studio in New York and partnered with producer Robbie Brenner ("Dallas Buyers Club"), head of film at Hollywood management and production company the Firm, to make a feature film toplining hip-hop artist Tip "T. …

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