Dainik Bhaskar
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Writer: Source: Advertising Age - Friday, Apr 25,2008 8:13 AM

International: PR Giant Edelman Ventures Into Branded Content

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- While a well-placed press release can still generate tons of media coverage for a brand getting involved with a hankering for entertainment, some PR shops want to offer clients more than a mention in Page Six.

Independent Edelman is one of those evolving shops, and the PR giant is making a big play to mine creative talent to produce fresh branded content for its clients.

Connecting with big brands

The firm is readying the launch of Edelman Studios, a virtual studio that will link emerging talent and professional talent with brands and companies aiming to connect with consumers in new ways. The studio will solicit and develop creative content -- from TV shows to film shorts and webisodes -- from screenwriters, producers and directors who will have a shot at competing for assignments from heavy-hitting marketers.

"Edelman Studios is a milestone in Edelman's ongoing expansion of the traditional public relations model," Nancy Ruscheinski, who last month was promoted to president-chief operating officer of Edelman U.S., said in a statement. "Creativity and content have always been essential components of our business, and Edelman Studios allows us to deliver both at an even higher level, and while sourcing creative content from unexpected places."

At launch, Edelman clients Burger King Corp., Butterball, Expedia and Kraft's Philadelphia Cream Cheese brand have signed on to Edelman Studios, and additional marketers in the hunt for novel content ideas are queued up, an Edelman spokeswoman said.

"Burger King is always looking for new ways to bring a 'have it your way' experience to our customers," said Brian Gies, VP-marketing impact at the fast-food chain known for viral stunts like Subservient Chicken. "We've been at the forefront of the converging marketplace of entertainment, technology and media, and Edelman Studios offers us another unique opportunity to involve young emerging talent directly in the process."

Sarah Pynchon, VP-brand marketing at Expedia, said, "The Edelman Studios concept complements Expedia's marketing approach to align the brand with entertainment vehicles that speak to the fun and adventure of travel. ... We are hoping to find content that allows consumers to think about Expedia in unexpected ways, find it in unusual places and ultimately, inspire people to travel."

A chance for emerging talent

Edelman, meanwhile, is betting that the new offering, which kicks off next week during the Tribeca Film Festival, will present a unique opportunity for lesser-known talents such as film students and other emerging content producers.

Starting April 28, they can register at Edelman.com/Studios in order to review and respond to studio assignments from participating Edelman clients.

Content idea submissions -- which can be for any medium, TV, online, even mobile -- will be vetted by entertainment honchos at Matter, Edelman's entertainment arm, and the top three artists selected for each assignment will then pitch the marketer. Those who are given the green light will be paid cash and can team with Edelman Studios to develop and produce his or her concept.

"It's an unusually democratic approach: Anyone with a compelling creative treatment can respond to the assignments and have the opportunity to see his or her concept come to life," Andy Marks, co-managing director of Matter, which will oversee Edelman Studios in partnership with Edelman Digital, said in a statement. "Brands can and should develop proprietary content to further communicate their brand stories in captivating ways."

Source: AdAge.com

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