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That’s Entertainment: Lang Telling Stories for MindShare Clients

Dec 12, 2007  •  Post A Comment

David Lang doesn’t think there’s much difference between creating traditional programs and making branded entertainment.
“It’s still got to be great entertainment. Otherwise consumers aren’t going to watch,” said Mr. Lang, who was promoted last month to president of MindShare Entertainment.
Under Mr. Lang, MindShare has grown quickly in two years. This year alone it completed some very high-profile projects.
Its multiplatform entertainment program starring Leah Remini, “In the Motherhood” for Sprint and Unilever’s Suave, attracted 5.5 million video views in a month. While the site was live, it was the fifth-most-trafficked site for moms on the entire Web, Mr. Lang said.
MindShare also launched Web series “The Rookie” for Unilever’s Degree deodorant, creating an original character who works at CTU, Jack Bauer’s agency in “24.”
Both campaigns positively “moved brand metrics tremendously, down to sales,” Mr. Lang said.
MindShare won a Bronze Lion at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival with its Oscar-night campaign for Dove.
Mr. Lang said what makes MindShare Entertainment special is most of its leadership, starting with former CBS executive Peter Tortorici, now Mr. Lang’s boss at GroupM Entertainment, and a staff that’s drawn from the entertainment side of the business.
“Many of the other branded entertainment shops are staffed with marketers first,” he said. “We know marketing and understand marketing, but we’re creatives, we’re storytellers. And that background, as well as those relationships, is a big reason for much of our success.”
Mr. Lang expects MindShare Entertainment’s business to grow next year. The group is working on a number of projects in various media, including a show he’s pitching to the networks.
“There’s a lot of opportunity in the marketplace, and I think we’re looking at everything from TV to movies to Internet mobile and the combination thereof,” he said. “It is a fascinating time and a fabulous time to be doing what we’re doing.”
Mr. Lang was born in Chicago and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He majored in sociology at UCLA, but he said he got his most valuable experience outside the classroom.
He was sports director of the campus radio station and sports editor of the Daily Bruin; he also did radio play-by-play for UCLA football and basketball games.
“To be 21, 22 years old and traveling on the UCLA team plane, staying at the team hotel, announcing UCLA-Notre Dame basketball in South Bend, was like a dream come true,” he said.
Having done radio and print in college, Mr. Lang wanted to do TV after graduating. He landed a job as a sports reporter and weekend sports anchor at WHBS-TV, the ABC affiliate in Fort Smith, Ark. As part of its sports coverage, the station did a series of award-winning feature stories.
“That’s where the storytelling bug really got me,” he said. And he looked for opportunities to tell longer stories.
Mr. Lang got a job at Universal Television and crossed over into entertainment. In 1997 he started working at Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video, developing and producing shows for cable across all genres: music, comedy, reality, talk shows and game shows.
A few of those shows were underwritten by sponsors, so when he was looking to leave Broadway Video, Mr. Lang considered branded video.
After one ad agency showed interest in him, he called an acquaintance, Marc Goldstein, president and CEO of GroupM North America. He said, “Hey, I might have something,” Mr. Lang recalled.
MindShare flew Mr. Lang out to L.A. to meet with Mr. Tortorici, and the deal was done.
When he’s not working, Mr. Lang said, the thing he enjoys most is playing with his 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.
He loves basketball and golf, but since joining MindShare hasn’t had much time to play. “My handicap has gone up,” he said.
Who knew?: When Mr. Lang was in college, he was the school radio station’s announcer for two UCLA football games in the Rose Bowl, against Michigan and Illinois. UCLA won both. Mr. Lang’s role in the success? “Good karma,” he said.

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