Why Time Inc. Is Going Big on Branded Video

Entertainment Weekly's 'Lightbulb' puts spotlight on actors

As part of Time Inc.’s repositioning as a multi-platform media company, the publisher of titles like People and Sports Illustrated has been putting an increased emphasis on fostering cross-brand collaborations.

So far, we’ve seen a few examples of this on the print editorial side (like the recent partnership between Fortune and Food & Wine), and now, that strategy is being embraced by the company’s expanding digital video division.

This month, Entertainment Weekly introduced Lightbulb, a new web series sponsored by Glade that features one-on-one interviews with actors and other creative types like Morgan Spurlock, Tavi Gevinson and Rashida Jones. (Time Inc. first previewed the show during its inaugural New Fronts presentation this past spring.) While Lightbulb is officially an EW product, episodes will be pushed out across multiple Time Inc. brands, including People, InStyle and Essence, depending on the content. (For instance, InStyle will be promoting the episodes starring fashion-savvy Gevinson and Jones.) 

"This was an idea that we originally had at EW, and when it came time to plan the New Fronts and figure out how we could collaborate with other silos, this seemed like an ideal fit," said EW editor Matt Bean. "There were a lot of other brands that this content would resonate with."

"As far as big programs sold across brands, this is the first fully integrated cross-brand program," added J.R. McCabe, Time Inc.’s svp of video. "I think this was a perfect opportunity for a brand who wants to engage in content that’s being delivered on any screen and that potentially has some staying power and evergreen value."

In addition to Glade’s 30-second pre-roll ads, there's a Glade logo on-screen during the interviews and some subtle product integration. "This partnership gives Glade a relevant storytelling platform and a way to inspire conversations about scent and feelings," said Kelly Semrau, svp of global corporate affairs at S.C. Johnson.

According to McCabe, we can expect to see more of this cross-brand collaboration from the video division.

"This is indicative of the kinds of programs that you’ll see from us going forward and also part of a commitment from Time Inc. to be forward-thinking in how we look at these brands," he said. "They clearly matter as magazines, but we're now looking at them more as brands than as print products, and how we develop these brands is key to this whole project."

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