Marketers Seek New Ways to Merge Content, Commerce

NEW YORK With commercial pods pushing four minutes, the advertising industry is struggling “to regain a foothold where consumers will appreciate brands again,” co-proprietor Jon Kamen explained at a session held today as a part of Advertising Week. “We’ve lost that in an eight-spot pod.”

The panel, “Content & Commerce: Hollywood Meets Madison Avenue,” examined the multiple ways marketers are trying to regain that appreciation, from Internet programs and product placement to content creation and even, brand development.

The ones that tend to be the innovators in brand entertainment are already entertaining consumers within traditional parameters, said Kamen, citing Nike’s award-winning commercials. Going beyond its “short-form” work, @radical recently produced a series for Nike in collaboration with Wieden + Kennedy. The series, Battlegrounds: King of the World, featured “streetballers” in a single elimination tournament and ran on MTV and MTV2. “As short-form producers, we had to earn our long-form chops,” he said.

R/GA chairman and CEO Bob Greenberg also used Nike as an example of how the interactive shop reaches millennials, or 18- to 24-year-olds. “We go after millennials by providing them with meaningful content,” he said, citing Nike’s Art of Speed Web films, and content on and

But not every marketer has the budget of the athletic goods giant, argued Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners co-chairman Richard Kirshenbaum. “At our agency, we have a lot of No. 2 brands. Our clients don’t have the media dollars to develop their own programming,” he said at the hour-long session, sponsored by Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC and held at Bloomberg headquarters in Manhattan.

Last year, the MDC-backed shop created a temporary store in Manhattan’s Soho to introduce urbanites to Delta’s low-cost Song airline; the store received over 150,000 visitors in eight weeks, he reported. But, Kirshenbaum admitted, “In the agency business, advertising is where you make your money, but everything else is a gift with purchase.”

He suggested that agencies consider creating their own brands. Kirshenbaum, for instance, said he is partnering with Miss America 1971 Phyllis George to market beauty products on HSN to women over 40. The show debuts Oct. 18.

Creating programs is the goal of Omnicom Group’s Full Circle Entertainment. The venture, headed by president and CEO Robert Riesenberg, was formed late last year after the holding company had “several discussions with clients who wanted to own programs,” said Omnicom evp Bruce Redditt. Thus far, the Full Circle has cleared 45 hours of programming with the networks, he said.

“Everyone is looking for different ways to stretch their brands and stretch their business,” Redditt said.