NEW YORK The Warner Bros. Television Group has formed a division to create short-form branded content for broadband and mobile platforms. Christened Studio 2.0, the new venture will jointly develop and produce content with brand marketers, upping Hollywood's ante in ad-integrated programming.
WBTVG is the first major television studio to set up a unit to work directly with advertisers on original digital content, said Craig Hunegs, executive vice president, Warner Bros. Television Group. He noted, "Others have focused on creating extensions of their existing films and television shows."
Commercial producer and former ad agency executive Rich Rosenthal will head the division, which will be overseen by Hunegs. "Rich is absolutely the right guy," said Hunegs. With his "great creative instincts, strong relationships within the ad community and familiarity with the language, [he'll be] a constable that acts as a go-between between Hollywood and advertisers."
Rosenthal comes to Warner Bros. from Young & Rubicam, where he most recently served as head of production and executive vice president. During his 10-year tenure there, the Emmy nominee and multiple ad award winner also served as executive producer and senior vice president. Prior appointments include vice president at J. Walter Thompson and producer at Saatchi & Saatchi.
Studio 2.0 gives WBTVG a creative "laboratory" where its on-screen and behind-the-scenes talent can innovate digital ad-embedded content, said Hunegs. "In addition to working with writers, producers and talent across the board that we have working relations with at the studio, Rich will also be reaching out to talent that has emerged in nontraditional media," he said. Rosenthal will be based in New York, within power lunch range of the ad world. (He is expected to travel to Burbank, Calif.-based WBTVG at least twice a month.)
The Studio 2.0 concept has been gestating for some time, and counts the ad world as a parent. "We've had very detailed conversations with advertisers and agencies over the previous years that have indirectly pointed us this way," said Hunegs.
"What advertisers want is to be able to align themselves early on in the life of programming and be able to speak to their audience in a way that's consistent with their messaging," said Hunegs. While Studio 2.0 will present creative ideas and scripts to advertisers, he also envisions fielding pitches. Hunegs stressed that the new venture expects to work with all agencies and brands, but did not rule out the possibility of securing a special partnership.
Ranging from live action to animation, the original programming will span diverse formats, from episodic series to single shows. Hunegs explained that content length will initially average 3-7 minutes, and will expand as digital distribution capabilities evolve.
Rosenthal will collaborate with Time Warner Global Marketing, the Time Warner group tasked with managing client partnerships across corporate siblings. He will also work with recently established Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, particularly with the aim of licensing content to Web sites, Internet portals and wireless outlets.