OMD to Host First Upfront-like Session for Branded Content Projects

Dubbed the Final Front

Media powerhouse OMD will bring big money and big ideas together in a first-of-its kind Hollywood event this week that will put deep-pocketed advertisers directly in touch with cutting-edge content producers.

Dubbed the Final Front—a cheeky word play off the upfront and newfront ad selling seasons—the event will introduce 40 blue chip marketers in OMD’s stable to a dozen content companies that have spent more than a month coming up with original branded entertainment ideas custom created for the advertisers.

Per OMD’s mandate, those concepts must be fresh—not recycled—and involve a new technology, creative or strategic approach, such as an unprecedented partnership structure, multi-screen show or online property. The early fall timing was carefully chosen because marketers are planning and have money to spend for 2014.

In an auction format, advertisers including JC Penney, Lowes, State Farm, McDonald’s, PepsiCo and FedEx will be able to bid on the ideas that strike their fancy. No real money will change hands, and no bidding wars are expected since the brands are in non-competitive categories. Two or more of the participants could always decide to work together if a concept fits their strategies. As opposed to a real-world auction, then, sharing, not winning, would be the keyword.

Heavy-hitting content producers presenting at the Final Front, which will be held Tuesday on the DreamWorks campus, include AOL, Sean Combs’ Revolt TV, the Grammys, YouTube, Funny or Die, Viacom, Awesomeness TV (recently acquired by DreamWorks Animation) and Relativity Media.

“We’ve worked with these partners to create offerings that make sense for the clients rather than off shelf ideas, insert brand here,” said Claudia Cahill, OMD’s chief content officer. “If they want this incremental advertiser money, they’ll have to perform to get it.”

Viacom executives promise some Hollywood-style razzle dazzle and showmanship, but wouldn’t leak any details of their presentations, which could fan out over MTV, Paramount, Comedy Central and other parts of its entertainment conglomerate.

“It’s a great opportunity to get big ideas in front of decision makers in real time,” said Dario Spina, executive vp of integrated marketing, Viacom Media Networks, Music and Entertainment. “We can truly partner at the gestation level, and the idea is at the forefront leading the way, which isn’t always the case.”

Producers will present concepts designed to appeal to a number of the marketers in attendance, whether it’s built around sports, music, moms or millennials.

Chad Stubbs, head of media, strategy and investment at PepsiCo, has entertainment-related concepts pitched at him constantly, many of them poorly timed for his media planning. Some are one-offs that could be difficult or expensive to execute. He likes that OMD’s event has worked out those kinds of kinks.

“The heavy lifting has been done, and the ideas that will be presented to us will be actionable,” Stubbs said. “And it’s exciting to us that we’ll be pitched things that have never been seen before.”