Embassy Row CEO extols brand power


NEW YORK -- Brands have unprecedented leverage these days with media companies, ad agencies, broadcast and cable networks, Embassy Row CEO Michael Davies said Wednesday. Speaking at an Advertising Week session, Davies added that the Internet allows advertisers to create content they can own and control for significantly less than they spend on traditional media.

"I do find it remarkable that brands will spend such an enormous amount of money in order to make 30-second commercials and print ads and, at the same time, not have any kind of content play behind that," Davies said. "I think we are at this huge juncture in the world of branded entertainment where brands have more leverage than they've ever had before with media companies. I'm talking about with their own agencies and with the seven companies that basically own almost every network, every cable channel and newspaper and local TV station. The networks aren't treating (the brands) like they have all the leverage in the world, but they really do have the leverage."

Davies said the Web is the area where brands "can just say, 'We are going to make content,' and ... basically, for the money they pay their agencies in a consulting fee on one project, a brand can make 20 episodes of something, or they could make a daily show for a year, and they could control their message." He said Embassy Row made more than 50 episodes of "Hellman's Real Food" for $320,000 and produced "Nine" for Pepsi for $2,000 an episode. He said Embassy Row's entire interactive business is funded by brands and that it made $2.5 million in revenue this year from interactive programming.

"People who work at the portals or people who work at the network dot-com sites don't particularly want producers to be at the table directly with the brands, directly having a conversation. I think on the whole they would rather control their conversations at network or portal level and then bring us in later," he said.

Davies also said Sears' "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" on ABC was probably the most successful brand integration ever done.