New avenue for products' place

Look Book benefits retail, studios

Entertainment Media Works is launching a Web-based service called theLookBook.net that allows production studios, stylists and costume designers to order free or deeply discounted products to dress their sets and casts of their TV shows, films and music videos.

Retailers will underwrite the costs of the nonbranded products in exchange for being featured on Entertainment Media Works' Star Style network as the sole retail link for consumers seeking to purchase the products they have seen featured in entertainment content. If successful, the service, to be unveiled this month, could give retailers a significant new role in the product-placement arena.

Traditionally, the brands themselves have been the ones to underwrite the costs of products in exchange for their placement in entertainment content, and they often pay exorbitant fees amid the growing demand for product placement and branded entertainment.

"The Look Book will revolutionize how products are integrated into media and the way set and costume designers can find interesting products to dress their sets and favorite characters," Entertainment Media Works CEO Ashley Heather said. "The Look Book will also enable production studios to significantly reduce the cost of producing entertainment, which is becoming increasingly important due to the pressure on existing network revenue streams."

Dozens of retailers have signed on to participate, including Nordstrom, OnlineShoes.com and FigLeaves.com lingerie and swimwear. Producers and stylists can search the Look Book by brand, retailer, product description or keywords.

By making such nonbranded products as furniture, apparel and accessories easily available to producers, set designers and stylists ? and then selling those products on StarStyle.com as well as Star Style microsites featured on numerous Web portals and entertainment Web sites ? EMW is hoping to monetize and create a market for what it calls "implicit" product integration. Most paid placement deals now involve products with such easily recognizable brand labels as Coke, Ford and Motorola.

"Initiatives like the Look Book will over time enable the full monetization of all implicit product-placement opportunities," Heather said. Within a year, Heather expects that brands will be willing to pay fees to be featured on theLookBook.net, which initially will only be available to EMW entertainment production clients. "Working together, the Look Book and Star Style will lead to an increase in paid placements of implicit products."

For now, brands can pay EMW monthly fees for increased visibility on the Look Book and Star Style networks or to access the data that EMW collects on what products are selling or grabbing consumer interest in which entertainment content.

Brands also can pay premium fees to be more prominently featured in search results or on the Look Book home page, to have banner ads posted on the Star Style network or to be informed by EMW when one of their products is selected through the Look Book.

Any revenue that EMW generates from brand fees is shared 50-50 with the networks and studios that own the content, which Heather described as "indirect product-placement fees" for the entertainment industry.
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