JWT, ‘Gear’ Hope Musical Opposites Attract Sponsors

NEW YORK Bob Guccione Jr., editor-in-chief of Gear magazine, has joined forces with J. Walter Thompson Brand Entertainment to produce a half-hour music series featuring unlikely duos such as Tony Bennett and Eminem while attracting advertisers with equally varied demographics.

The series, entitled Conversations, aims to capture the intimacy of the Bravo Network’s Inside the Actors Studio with the pop-star power of MTV-generation artists, said Guccione. The partnership is trying to sell the concept to major cable television networks as a potential flagship program, Guccione said.

“It’s probably going to skew a bit older than MTV,” said Mark Brown, senior partner, group communications planning director at JWT’s Brand Entertainment. “As wide as 25 to 49, and if we get someone like a Ja Rule, it might pull a little younger.”

JWT Brand Entertainment in Detroit is attempting to sell the program to the agency’s existing clients, and New York-based Guccione is trying to bring Gear‘s advertisers to the table, Brown said. Both are also courting new advertisers, he said.

“There are at least two clients that are very big advertisers with Gear and they love the esthetic of the magazine,” said Guccione, who has pitched the show to cell phone, beer and watch makers.

It is not yet clear if JWT and Guccione will tape a pilot to show to potential sponsors, or if the two parties will wait until they have secured sufficient backing to begin production, Brown said. Guccione’s involvement itself is a huge selling point, he said.

“We can deliver the top stars in the world current and legendary,” said Guccione, who founded Spin magazine and has extensive music industry contacts. “We’re not going to be turning out B-level musicians.”

The program would be moderated by Guccione and showcase the Gear brand.