OMD’s Final Front Brings Together Brands and New Original Content

Multiple client bids for each idea

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They came, they saw, they bid.

Nearly 40 blue-chip advertisers—among them PepsiCo, FedEx, State Farm, Toys R Us, Intel and JCPenney—snapped up original ideas during a recent first-of-its-kind event that put content producers in front of deep-pocketed marketers in an auction-style format.

What’s left to do now is make those projects a reality. The event, dubbed the Final Front and organized by media powerhouse OMD, marks the beginning of a working relationship between producers like Funny or Die, Viacom, AOL and the Grammys and OMD’s clients.

The fruit of that labor—if the partners move forward on the concepts presented last week at the Dreamworks Animation campus—could take many forms. For instance, Funny or Die’s 50 States of Funny would troll the country for the best sketch comedy, with winners heading to Hollywood to try for “U.S. Champion” bragging rights. (Pepsi, Levi’s, Intel, Time-Warner Cable, Warner Bros. and State Farm all wanted a piece of that nationwide project.)

Your Life Animated would tell in cartoon form the real-life stories of entertainment-loving millennials (Clorox and FedEx were among the brands bidding on that and other Viacom ideas). Marketers like Wells Fargo, GE and Experian may sponsor an AOL documentary-style series called Made in America that would travel the country telling the personal stories of homegrown craftsmen, workers and entrepreneurs.

Projects presented ran the gamut from mom-targeted TV series to fashion and rock 'n' roll live events to sports and music mashups. Producers rolled out a number of feel-good ideas like Awesomeness TV’s Bringing the Awesomeness, where 12 kids will see their school gym, prom, football field or marching band transformed from drab to, well, awesome. And YouTube-based Kin Community, which manages a network of female-oriented channels, offered advertisers a fairy godmother role in finding the next great lifestyle star and turning that person into a worldwide hit.

The Recording Academy, owner of the Grammy Awards, rolled out a renewed Fashion Rocks the Grammys, an original TV property called Grammy Moments in Music and a live event next fall at London’s O2 arena that would pair hot pop stars with music legends. Marketers who end up committing to these or other Grammy-generated ideas will get a one-year Grammy sponsorship thrown in for free. (Hands raised included Wells Fargo and JCPenney.)

Relativity Media’s upcoming holiday movie, Most Wonderful Time, with Diane Keaton, Alan Arkin and Amanda Seyfried, could be filled with not just heart and dramedy but sponsor brands (plenty of gift-giving and mall scenes) if deals percolating last week reach full steam.

OMD executives, who organized the program to give their roster access to fresh content ideas for 2014, reported that every client in attendance bid on at least one content producer’s ideas, and every producer had multiple client bids. The nitty gritty begins now on how the partners will proceed.

“These are great ideas from great developers all in one day and place,” said Chad Stubbs, head of media, strategy and investment at PepsiCo. “It would’ve taken six weeks to schedule meetings with all these people.”

PepsiCo sent a pack of executives to the Final Front—from Lipton, Pepsi, Tropicana and other brands— who gave their auction paddles a daylong workout, bidding on everything from Awesomeness TV’s TRL-style music news show to AOL’s Cracking the Kid Code where youngsters will talk about what’s important to them.

Funny or Die producers, who have been working with marketers as varied as Weight Watchers, Cottonelle and Kraft, regularly create content based on brand briefs. But for the Final Front, they started with concepts they’d like to produce that could work for multiple brands.

“We could really amplify the ideas and make them broader,” said Chris Bruss, FOD’s head of branded entertainment.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose Dreamworks recently bought teen-and-tween-targeted Awesomeness TV, kicked off the event near L.A. by saying there are “in-between times” where content producers and advertisers can serve up “bits, bites and snacks” to consumers. “We see a tidal wave of change occurring,” he said, “and there’s an opportunity to fill these in-between times with rich media and monetize it.”

@TLStanleyLA T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.