Show and Business

“I cannot imagine a more dystopian view of the world than Hollywood and Madison Avenue becoming one industry,” quipped Ogilvy & Mather vice chairman and chief creative officer Steve Hay den at the “Content & Commerce: Hollywood meets Madison Avenue” conference on Friday, neatly dismissing notions of a marriage between the two industries. “Talk about a generation of vipers.”

Hayden followed key note speaker Bob Schmet terer, chairman and CEO of Euro RSCG, who spoke in defense of the content-commerce merger at the one-day event at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Schmet terer proposed that advertising and entertainment combine their creative resources to become “one industry” with “one vision and one single-minded focus.” He contended that advertisers should get involved with the development of entertainment content from the start, saying that will result in better content and deeper context.

Hayden, however, was blunt about his disregard for Hollywood, saying that the movie studios were started by those “too mean, too tough and too crooked to stay in New York.” In negotiations, “always bet on the guy with the tan and sunglasses,” he said to an eruption of laughter.

As a cautionary tale for marketers dealing with Hollywood, Hayden recounted an anecdote about a “star-struck” Apple marketing executive who readily gave Paramount Pictures $10 million for a co-marketing deal to promote the release of Mission Im possible and Apple’s Powerbook, used throughout the movie. That 1995 union resulted in a commercial re sembling a movie trailer that offered only a few quick shots of the laptop.

When the marketer complained to the studio, one executive responded with what Hayden described as “the quintessential Hollywood line: ‘It’s a shoe. Walk in it.’ ” (Hayden helped create Apple’s “1984” spot, but was no longer working on the account at the time.)

Still, most agency and marketing executives said they understand the need for content and commerce to converge.

Hollywood’s desire for money and leverage has met advertisers’ quest for glamour and sales, said Richard Kirshenbaum, co-chairman and chief creative officer of Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners. The New York-based agency is creating a TV show for cat-food client Meow Mix. The idea for the program, Meow TV, came out of research showing that a majority of cat owners leave the TV on for their cat after they leave the house.

Joe Pollard, director of global media, digital and content for Nike, warned that embedding commercial messages in entertainment properties is risky if not done seamlessly. “Don’t oversell,” she said. “The consumer is very smart” and will catch on to the pitch quickly. As an example of discreet branding, she cited a Nike-commissioned documentary that followed cyclist Lance Armstrong and his team as they trained for the Tour de France. While there was no overt message from the sports marketer, the Nike logo was visible on Armstrong’s attire.

Another example men tioned was American Express’ sponsorship of rebuilding efforts in lower Manhattan, its longtime home, after 9/11. John Hayes, evp of global advertising and brand management at the client, cited its backing of the Tribeca Film Festival in May and collaboration with Ogilvy & Mather on Brotherhood, a coffee-table book about firefighters. “I don’t want my brand’s only exposure to be at the network up front,” he said.