First NATPE Innovation Summit Set for New York on Thursday

J. Walter Thompson will host 150 executives on creating new content.

In the offices of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in New York City on Thursday about 150 advertising executives, brand managers, Hollywood producers and digital solution providers will gather for the first ever NATPE Innovation Summit.

The day-long program of panels, workshops and case studies in branded entertainment will also be watched online by some 25,000 others interested in how producers and brands can join together to invent new ways to finance, create and monetize compelling content for old and new media.

Among them will be Rob Barnett, a former programming executive at MTV, VH1 and for CBS Radio, who four years ago founded My Damn He is attending to speak and listen.

Barnett says NATPE, which last January presented a similar day long program during the annual market and convention in Miami Beach, Florida, is filling a need along with several similar conferences.

“In every meeting, on a daily basis, brands are looking for innovation,” explained Barnett, CEO of a website which presents free humorous videos, many featuring celebrities like Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill. It is almost all advertiser supported entertainment content that frequently incorporates product placements paid for by advertisers like Subway and IKEA.

“They are looking to find out how to get the content not just made but shared,” added Barnett. “I think you will see a lot of people talking at the summit about social media and how do you achieve that ever so difficult plateau that I call ‘virality,’ as opposed to simply ‘viral videos.’ It is what every one of them thinks they want.”

At a time the old ideas seem tired, it seems new technology is creating opportunities to mix the medium, the message and the sponsor as never before.

You’re looking at a universe that doesn’t have a lot of rules,” said Barnett. “What we are all doing here is creating the next great idea.”

For Rick Feldman, CEO of NATPE (the National Association of Program Executives), this is the latest in a series of moves to expand the organization’s mission. It follows development of new programs in L.A. and the acquisition earlier this year of the DISCOP market in Budapest earlier this year.

“NATPE speaks for content and not for any specific platform or advertisers,” said Feldman, adding: “We know advertisers are going to be even more important than they are in the old media world because the cost of developing and creating content for online is less expensive. This gives advertisers a lot more ability to be involved in some of this content, often at a very early stage because funding is very important to the world we all live in.”

“So this is a celebration,” added Feldman, “of the creative content and the funding and the things that have been done in recent months that hopefully set the stage for a new era in the way brands and content creators work together.”

If it is successful, Feldman envisions the summit in New York City as an annual event. He isn’t the only one who believes the need will continue to grow for this kind of dialogue.

“We have started to see a lot more people putting brands, ad agencies, content creators and distributors in a room together to find ways to work to light up successful online video campaigns,” said Barnett. “So NATPE decided to put the flag down in New York where so many of the ad dollars are centered. It’s a day where all these different constituencies get to think, talk and collaborate.”

Sessions include “Convergence: Big Talent and Big Brands Go Digital;” “Who Are We Talking To? The Art of “Less” in a Complex World;” and “Through the Looking Glass: What Do Content Creators Want?”

Speakers in addition to Barnett range from Hollywood producer Jordan Levin of Generate to David Freeman of CAA mixing with ad agency’s execs like Lori Schwartz of McCann Worldgroup North America, JWT’s Peter Nicholson and Optimedia’s Greg Kahn, joined by others such as Chad Stubbs of Pepsi North America, Ellen Liu of The Clorox Company and Michael Wolff of Adweek Media.

Feldman said this is intended to spark an ongoing conversation between content creators and advertisers that will continue Miami in January 2012, at the new NATPE market in Budapest, Hungary the following June, and if all goes well, in New York again next fall.