BermanBraun sips with Pepsi

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Pepsi-Cola North America said Wednesday that it has entered into an agreement with BermanBraun that will give the company's beverage brands a first look to fund, sponsor and be featured in original entertainment content that the Los Angeles-based production company develops for online platforms.

BermanBraun, founded in February by former Paramount Pictures president Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun, former head of the Yahoo Media Group, said it already has a digital content studio up and running in New York and expects to announce a new head of its Internet group in about two weeks. Braun said the company will have offices in New York together with a new online production partner that also will be announced in another couple of weeks. BermanBraun expects to have an Internet studio operational in its Santa Monica offices in about six months, he said.

While the agreement is structured as a first-look deal, Pepsi and BermanBraun said the partnership is really about creating entertaining online content for Pepsi that is inspired by its brands, integrates its brands and is funded at least partly, if not completely, by its brands.

"We're going to be strategic partners together in the creation and production of original online content so that we can zero in very early on the kind of content they're going to be excited and passionate about sponsoring and getting behind," Braun said. "From the very beginning of the development process, we'll be working with them to create organic advertising solutions to embed in the content." Both companies declined comment on the financial terms of the agreement.

The deal clearly emerged from Braun's relationship with Pepsi while at Yahoo, where he developed the music show "Pepsi Smash" and "The Nine," a daily countdown of the nine top-recommended Web videos or other Internet content, with viewers asked to submit the Pepsi 10th — their suggestions for best Web content.

Pepsi and BermanBraun said they're hopeful the partnership will take Pepsi even further in creating compelling entertainment that also serves its marketing goals without turning viewers off with over-the-top commercial messages. "What we're trying to do has really never been done before," said Russell Weiner, vp marketing, colas, at Pepsi-Cola North America.

"What we're hoping to do is work with (BermanBraun) to create a new kind of content on the Internet that's entertainment but that's inspired by our brands and depicts our brands in a very integrated way," Weiner said. "We're very excited to have these minds that have been successful in these other mediums to help us bring breakthrough content to the Internet."

Braun said his company and Pepsi are committed to experimentation and taking risks to figure out new ways to connect Pepsi brands with content and the consumer.
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