Mindshare’s Chief Content Officer Discusses Making Branded Entertainment That Resonates

David Lang also shares the projects he is proudest of


Who David Lang

Age 50

New gig Chief content officer, Mindshare

Continuing gig President, Mindshare Entertainment

How is your new job different from the old one?

It’s bigger and more expansive, but a lot of the fundamentals are the same. It has to be about, is it worth a consumer clicking on, watching and engaging with? It’s got to be compelling content that’s mapped to your brand.

What types of people will you hire?

Designers, some creators, writers, producers. I’m specifically going to look toward the television side—people who have experience similar to mine [in that they] can turn things around and be creative and strategic very quickly.

How has the attitude of marketers toward branded content changed since you joined Mindshare?

In 2005, it was an afterthought, or it was an attitude of, “Hey, let’s try this new thing called branded entertainment to see if it works.” Now, for many clients, it is an integral part of the plan and it is put in place very, very early on in the communications planning and strategic process.

What made them true believers?

Number one was [that] media consumption by consumers continues to change so dramatically. Marketers have realized that the power and effectiveness of a single, 30-second spot is diminished. I’m not saying the 30-second spot will ever go away, that it’s dead or anything like that. But the power is less than it used to be.

What else changed their minds?

In the Motherhood being the first branded entertainment Web property to ever go to broadcast TV in 2009 was a huge moment for the industry. The other thing that we do here is that with anything of size or magnitude we do a pre- and post-study based on the client’s goals and objectives.

Why is a media agency better suited for branded entertainment than a creative shop or production company?

No one has better data. We believe our content is second to none and we have really good storytellers. But we also have the distribution. And the distribution in paid and owned [media] is absolutely essential because even if you have great data and great content, if no one sees it, you’re a tree falling in the forest.

How do you get the best performance out of celebrities in an online environment? Most actors get into the business thinking, “I want to be on the big screen” and then they get on the small screen, on TV, and now the Web screen.

When we started in 2005, it was much more difficult to get the attention of big-name celebrities. Now we find celebrities of all sizes, shapes and forms—from movie stars to TV stars, whoever—really interested in this area because they see the exposure they can get.

Give me some examples.

In 2010, we worked with Whoopi Goldberg. This past summer we worked with Ne-Yo and Cher Lloyd creating a socially inspired song.

What projects are you proudest of?

In the Motherhood, for sure. The Whoopi Goldberg Poise [effort] would be another example. It took a totally taboo product category—bladder leakage—and it grew their brand. The biggest sales in decades.

Why did it do so well?

Whoopi was brilliant in what she did on camera. Two, the creative idea was very clever and resonated with consumers. And we did it in a way that was very unique and really got into pop culture. Thirteen days after it premiered on air, we were spoofed on SNL.