The proud papa of 'Motherhood'
MindShare's Lang shepherding branded webisodesDavid Lang created "In the Motherhood," an Internet series that stars Leah Remini ("The King of Queens") and incorporates consumer-generated stories from real-life moms into every episode (HR 4/18). "Motherhood," which premieres today on the MSN-hosted site www.inthemotherhood.com, is the latest of 10 high-profile branded entertainment projects Lang has put together since he joined MindShare Entertainment. He recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter marketing reporter Gail Schiller.
The Hollywood Reporter: What is MindShare's strategy for its advertiser clients?
David Lang: Our mission is to imagine and create unique entertainment opportunities that have the right brand messaging and positioning for our clients. Almost everything we do is multiplatform, so there's a lot of focus in the digital arena, which is growing by leaps and bounds. We do a lot in the television space and for cellular and retail as well, so all of these and various other components are really important. Our clients continually ask us what the big idea is for their brands, but I don't really buy into that. I think it's more important to find the right idea for the brand with great execution.
THR: Is "In the Motherhood" the best example to date of MindShare's branded entertainment strategy?
Lang: We're really proud of how "In the Motherhood" has performed so far. We've had more than 1 million video views of the trailer in our first two weeks. … We put a lot of unique elements together — user-generated content with top-name talent and online, television, retail and music components — to create something special. It's one of the most complicated entertainment projects we've created. We've brokered an unprecedented partnership between two major marketers, Sprint and Suave, and we're taking consumer-generated content and interactivity to another level. We also have all three screens covered. Our webisodes premiere on the Web, exclusively on Sprint phones and also on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (which will heavily promote the series as part of a 10-week integration deal). In addition to Leah Remini, we have comedian Chelsea Handler co-starring and a very special guest in our first episode — Lainie Kazan, who played the mom in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."
THR: What are some of the other branded entertainment projects you've produced at MindShare?
Lang: We did a very cool project with Degree deodorant and Fox Studios and "24." We created a new character in CTU that lives exclusively on the Web called "The Rookie" (HR 1/19). We created two short films on the Web starring this character (at) cturookie.com, and we also created and produced six national commercials starring the same character.
THR: Any other projects?
Lang: Last year, we did the Dove Calming Night webisodes that starred Felicity Huffman and were directed by Penny Marshall. We sent Felicity back in time to visit three of TV's most iconic moms — Carol Brady from "The Brady Bunch," June Cleaver in "Leave It to Beaver" and Lily Munster in "The Munsters" — and ask them the universal questions that moms have. Also last year, we developed and produced a primetime special on Spike for Axe called "Exposing the Order of the Serpentine." Axe was launching an exfoliant aimed at guys 18-24. The show was a 30-minute mockumentary, the concept being that there has been a fictitious order living in the shadows of our society for the past few hundred years helping men "scrub away" the shame of their questionable hookups.
THR: Do you think branded entertainment will become even more important to advertisers than the 30-second spot?
Lang: I don't believe it when they say the 30-second ad is dead. I think commercials and branded entertainment are both viable options depending on what the goals and objectives are for a given brand, but we have seen tremendous engagement with consumers in our projects and a lot of active participation and interaction, which I think is really important in developing one-on-one communication with consumers.
Early years: Born in Chicago; raised in the Bay Area; majored in sociology at UCLA
Work experience: Sportscaster at an ABC affiliate in Fort Smith, Ark.; Al Burton Prods. at Universal Television; Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video for seven years, the past four as senior vp development and production; joined MindShare Entertainment in early 2005 and became its top executive after Hollywood veteran Peter Tortorici was promoted to president of GroupM Entertainment