Droga5 Jumps Into Content

NEW YORK Publicis Groupe’s Droga5 is jumping into the branded entertainment space.

The New York-based agency will launch the Web site Honeyshed this summer. The site will make explicit the usually implicit world of branded entertainment via shows that place brands at the center of attention.

“It’s based on the idea that people love brands and don’t mind being sold to if it’s completely transparent,” said Andrew Essex, CEO at Droga5. “We like to say honey is the content and the shed is the community.”

There will be three different, as yet unnamed, regions of Honeyshed. One will offer studio-produced shows. For example, one program will have young women trying on designer clothes and commenting on what they like and dislike about the apparel.

The second area will focus on episodic content that revolves around brands.

The third will consist of contests, sweepstakes and giveaways. The hope is that videos submitted to this region will go viral into the wider blogosphere.

In moving into the content creation zone, Honeyshed will join an increasingly crowded landscape populated by brands such as Anheuser-Busch’s Bud.tv (which has struggled), Nike’s Nikeplus.com and Toyota’s Scion broadBand.

Essex said Honeyshed would be different. “This is about multiple brands getting strength from other brands, like a mall,” he said. “The emphasis will be on pre-commerce not e-commerce. A lot of times when you go to mall you don’t have a transaction, sometimes it’s about learning about what the brands have to offer.”

While some of Droga5’s clients include Microsoft, TracFone and Stein Lager, they are not guaranteed space on the new site. That is because Honeyshed is being run as a separate entity with its own profit-and-loss statement and its own, as yet undetermined, CEO.

Publicis Groupe’s stake in the company will be 51 percent, and New York-based Smuggler will handle a large percentage of the production duties. The initial cost of the joint venture will be $20 million, per sources.

Advertisers will pay a fee each time a Honeyshed video is viewed, although specifics remain under wraps. “This is a new barometer of advertising accountability. The CPMs will be based on engagement and length of stay,” Essex said.

David Droga, creative chairman of the agency, will elaborate on the announcement at Microsoft’s Strategic Account Summit in Seattle late Thursday.