When LiquidThread, Starcom MediaVest Group's branded content division, realized that the rapid growth it's enjoyed in the 18 months since it launched would require a rethinking of its North American leadership structure, it didn't have to look far for a creative lead. On Wednesday, MediaVest's own Brent Poer was named executive vice president and executive creative director of LiquidThread North America.
After more than two decades in content creation, Poer is navigating in familiar territory. In the early 1990’s, he kicked off his career in branded entertainment at Reebok. He started out working with Gin Miller, the woman who invented the step aerobics fitness phenomenon. They'd met at a health club, and Miller was impressed by his business savvy. When Reebok hired Miller to jumpstart the aerobics movement, she brought Poer along with her as part of the Step Reebok launch team. His initiation into content creation: working on the very first step aerobics video, the unsubtly titled “Step Reebok: The Video.”
Though tapes like those—even VHS itself—are fossils now, Poer thinks the fundamentals of content creation haven't changed dramatically since his days at Reebok. “The core of every piece of content has to be great storytelling,” he says. “If it isn’t something that is going to resonate with a consumer and they don’t feel it's true or honest, you’re wasting your time.”
Poer spent the late '90s and early aughts at Lifetime, leading integrated marketing programs for the network’s clients and helping to launch the now-defunct Lifetime magazine. In 2003, Poer joined MediaVest and worked alongside Brian Terkelsen, now president and managing director of LiquidThread, to build connectivetissue, the content creation unit that preceded LiquidThread.
In 2008, Poer left MediaVest to become general manager of theWB.com, launching the online entertainment property to serve as a content hub and working on distribution models. The dual tasks were a natural fit. “You can’t just be in one location,” Poer says. “You’ve got to spread your content out as wide as you can so that you can gin up those streams and the total number of people who have touched those stories.”
A little over a year after he moved to theWB.com, Poer ran into Terkelsen at an event in Los Angeles. When Terkelsen asked him when he would be returning to MediaVest, Poer said, “How about today?” Soon, he was back at MediaVest and gearing up for the launch of LiquidThread. Poer has been serving as executive vice president and managing director of MediaVest's West Coast office and LiquidThread's operation. Now, a year and a half after the company got off the ground, it is creating content in 15 global markets for SMG’s marquee clients, including Microsoft.
For this fall’s TV season, Poer was LiquidThread’s driving force behind a partnership between Microsoft and The CW, which resulted in “TV to Bing About”–the first advertising program to take over a network’s slogan and integrate network talent. “Brent is a visionary in the way he approaches and works with content partners,” says Meredith Brace, Microsoft’s global media director of Custom Media and Strategic Partnerships. “He has a different lens, creatively, for how he thinks about how we work with our network partners. It’s really refreshing."
The other side of the partnership agrees. “He is very creative, so much so that he continues to challenge us to do things that we’ve never done and didn’t even think were possible,” says Alison Tarrant, executive vice president of Sales and Integrated Marketing for The CW. “There is no territory that is forbidden when it comes to working with Brent.”