Going Hollywood: Why Today's Advertising Agencies Should Be Thinking More like Entertainment Companies

By Wiese, Mike | ADWEEK, September 20, 2010 | Go to article overview

Going Hollywood: Why Today's Advertising Agencies Should Be Thinking More like Entertainment Companies


Wiese, Mike, ADWEEK


In most every crime-thriller movie, there's always that scene where the local cop uncovers the big lead that'll break the case wide open--only to be blocked by some G-Man who claims that the whole thing is the Feels' jurisdiction. The two square off, and the dedicated cop (most likely a loose cannon needing to make amends with an ex-wife) will begrudgingly hand over his information to the suits from the FBI. Inevitably, the cop will continue to work the case on his own--defying the business-as-usual process and (of course) solving the crime and becoming a hero.

Predictable as this scenario is in the films that Hollywood chums out, it seems equally common in the world of advertising. Here, we face the same cop-flick cliches: Planners with British accents, broadcast producers wearing ironic T-shirts, and the battle among the agencies regarding who has jurisdiction. Just as in the case with the rogue cop, jurisdiction can prove to be a tricky thing to define when it comes to branded entertainment. (I define branded entertainment as original content and experiences produced to entertain and engage with an audience. I'll defer product placement and brand integrations to the media agencies.)

So who has jurisdiction? Is it the creative agency, since it controls the brand strategy? Is it the media agency that controls most of the budgets? And what about the PR agencies with their focus on earned media? This debate only gets more intense and complicated when we add digital content to the mix.

But you know what? Clients don't care about these turf wars. They want a solution. The fact of the matter is: If agencies want to succeed at branded entertainment, they need to think more like the competition. And, no, I'm not talking about other agencies. I'm talking about Hollywood.

The agency that thinks and acts like an entertainment company, challenging the usual business process of advertising, will ultimately lead entertainment solutions for the client.

To do this, there needs to be an investment made in developing ideas that are not requested by a client RFP. Instead, there should be a slate of projects being created. The fact is that creative agencies are filled with creative talent. So why not give them an incentive to come up with ideas that can become branded entertainment properties, even if it's not part of the billable, scope of work for a client? …

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