Branded entertainment company Madison Road Entertainment will try to raise its profile this year. It has hired a senior-level advertising executive and will dramatically increase its branded entertainment spending for its clients.
Madison Road has hired veteran media executive Stuart Shlossman, who comes from Masterfoods USA-makers of M&M’s, Uncle Ben’s products, Pedigree dog foods and other brands-as senior VP of media and client development, a new position.
Mr. Shlossman, who was marketing services commercial manager at Masterfoods, has had senior-level executive positions at DDB Needham, BBDO and other agencies. Masterfoods USA has been a client of Madison Road, which did a highly visible deal for its M-Azing Bar, an M&M-infused candy bar. Additionally, Masterfoods is an ongoing client of Madison Road for the M&M and Pedigree brands.
Madison Road Entertainment will pay out some $30 million for 18 clients, including Masterfoods USA, Levi Strauss & Co., Pfizer and Sara Lee’s Hanes, to build branded entertainment deals. This is versus a few million dollars spent in 2004. The company has done a number of high-profile branded entertainment projects on NBC’s The Apprentice” and UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model.”
Madison Road will also work on its own TV shows, including one that will be announced this week in the TV sports arena, said Jak Stevenson, chairman of Madison Road Entertainment.
Mr. Shlossman will concentrate on developing return on investment tools for branded entertainment deals, Mr. Stevenson said. Mr. Shlossman will also be in charge of broadening Madison Road’s list of companies.
“We want to be the leader in the field. We owe it to our marketing partners to take a run at it,” said Mr. Shlossman. “We brought Stuart aboard to sit down with advertisers and teach them how branded entertainment can be used as a replacement for traditional [TV, print and radio] GRPs,” Mr. Stevenson said. One of the things that attracted Mr. Shlossman to Madison Road was its unusual business model for an entertainment marketing agency. Madison Road asks its clients to pay only on delivery. That means if a show does a 5 rating in adults 18 to 49, that is what the advertiser pays-after the show has aired.
“There is no risk to the advertiser-there is no money up front,” said Mr. Shlossman. “That fits very nicely into the TV model. As a client I thought that was very important. Madison Road takes the risk.”
Madison Road says it can thrive because traditional media agencies can’t do the level of labor-intensive work necessary to properly build branded entertainment deals.
“Agencies traditionally don’t get compensated enough to put the level of time and scrutiny that is needed into deals,” said Mr. Stevenson. “Madison Road spends no less than 80 to 100 man-hours to manage [deals]. There is no way if you are a [media] agency you can afford to put that much time into it. And here’s the problem: There is no way you safely do an integration and do less than that.”