Allscreen on branding path

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Public relations agency Burson-Marsteller has partnered with veteran Hollywood producer Steven Haft to create Allscreen Studio, a jointly owned company that will produce entertainment content for Burson-Marsteller clients worldwide.

It is the first branded entertainment venture for Burson-Marsteller, a division of WPP.

Haft, producer of "Dead Poets Society" and Fox's "Mad TV" as well as the feature films "Emma," "Jakob the Liar," "Tigerland" and "Hocus Pocus," previously worked on creating branded content as vp chief strategy officer of AOL's interactive marketing group in 2001-2002. He also worked in the digital space as vp programming at Internet startup Digital Convergence, an interactive TV company headed by former Telepictures CEO Michael Garin.

"Branded content has quickly become a critical part of the communications and marketing mix for cutting-edge brands," said Mark Penn, global CEO of Burson-Marsteller. "We think Steven and Burson-Marsteller are a great match because each brings tremendous depth of experience that will translate into truly innovative thinking and compelling client programs."

Haft said Allscreen will create original content for the Web, mobile and emerging devices as well as network and cable TV. In addition to integrating brands into content, Allscreen will focus on producing entertainment that speaks to the audiences Burson-Marsteller clients are trying to reach.

"I don't see ourselves as mainly being in the product-placement business," he said. "I see ourselves as creating programming environments that speak to audiences that our clients are trying to reach, that speak to values that are characteristic of the client. By this time next year we're going to be as excited about creating widgets that live on your desktop or your mobile screen as we are to create webisodes. It becomes another new screen."

Although Allscreen is jointly owned by Burson-Marsteller and Haft, the studio will "live within" Burson similar to the way the agency's other practices do, Haft said.

Burson-Marsteller has more than 1,000 clients, including Comcast, Merrill Lynch, Ford and Shell.
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