Interpublic Group's Mediabrands is launching a branded entertainment unit called Ensemble and has hired Scott Donaton to run it as CEO, the company has confirmed.
Most recently, Donaton (pictured) was publisher of Time Inc.'s Entertainment Weekly. Before that, he was publisher at Crain Communications' Advertising Age, where he had previously served as editor.
For nearly a decade, IPG's Magna division had produced branded content through its Magna Global Entertainment unit, but that division was shuttered in December 2008. The last exec to run it was Bill Hilary, who joined Magna from BBC America, where he had been CEO.
At the time it shut down Magna Entertainment, IPG said its individual media shops such as Initiative and Universal McCann would orchestrate their own branded content efforts. Now, Ensemble has been formed to facilitate such projects.
"The entertainment industry is continuously impacted by many cultural perspectives across the globe, creating a wide palette of brand platforms and content-development opportunities," said Nick Brien, president and CEO, Mediabrands, in a statement. "Scott Donaton will fashion strategic relationships between our client brands and the entertainment community (producers, agents and talent) to create innovative forms of brand engagement with consumers."
The company also said Ensemble would team up with Los Angeles-based MediaLink, led by former agency exec Michael Kassan, to help it forge branded content deals.
The two major media shops will continue with their individual efforts in the content area, however. Initiative's Innovations and Entertainment units, led by executive vice presidents Jason Meil and John Nuzzi, respectively, conceptualize and execute brand integrations for clients.
At UM, branded entertainment experts are embedded into the global teams of Sony, Microsoft, MasterCard, Verizon and J3, among others.
IPG also operates the youth marketing and entertainment agency Translation that partners with individual sibling shops on various projects. Additionally, Sandbox, a division of Mediabrands run by Wayne Fletcher, is also a player in this space.
Mediabrands also has a strategic alliance with talent agency Endeavor Marketing to develop content.