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International: Global branded entertainment trade group formed

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International: Global branded entertainment trade group formed

The branded entertainment business is about to get more organized. The Branded Content Marketing Association has formed a chapter in the U.S. and has appointed Hollywood producer Peter Guber and Madison Avenue executive Cindy Gallop to serve as chairmen of the board.

A former head of Sony Pictures, Mr. Guber is currently chairman-CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, which produced the films Sleepy Hollow, Beyond Borders and MGM's upcoming action movie Into the Blue. Last year, the Los Angeles-based company formed Mandalay Branded Entertainment, but the unit was recently dissolved so that the company's other divisions, including Mandalay Pictures, Mandalay Television and Mandalay Sports Action Entertainment, could develop advertainment projects on their own.

Ms. Gallop is the chairman of advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty U.S. in New York, which is 49% owned by Publicis Groupe.

Global network

The BCMA describes itself as a global network of advertisers, agencies and entertainment producers who influence the growth of the branded content industry around the world, and is looking to promote and advance the advertainment business across all forms of media and events.

With the addition of the U.S., the new chapter is expected to provide the BMCA's membership with a greater link between production talent and brands around the world, said Claes Loberg, CEO of London-based branded entertainment shop Cocojambo and founding member of BCMA U.K. and BCMA Australia.

It's also expected to help generate new ideas.

'Disrupt the norm'

"There is some very exciting dialogue going on. There have been some terrific meetings so far. But very little is coming to fruition," Ms. Gallop said. "There hasn't been a formalized body that's about giving advertisers, content developers and media owners the opportunity to come together and share ideas and case studies, make connections and network on an ongoing basis. It's up to the BCMA to do what it can to disrupt the norm and point out new and different ways of operating within the branded content arena and how to be at the cutting edge of what's possible."

Mr. Guber noted that "We're seeing the decommercialization of television. The question is how does a brand, a product, a service get connected to an emotional entertainment experience so that it can be seen in a very effective light, and therefore, turn an experience for an audience into a permission to transact?"

Mr. Guber said his plan is to "help the evolvement of the organization" and create more resources and connections for the group as it tries to connect Madison Avenue with Hollywood.

"There is a process to all change," Mr. Guber said. "You really have to embrace change with a different attitude. People get comfort from other people who are equally bewildered. The exchange of ideas doesn't necessarily mean you'll give your competitor an advantage. It'll increase the depth and range of the art form. And that will help your own progress as well."

The BCMA's new U.S. chapter is currently seeking members to fill out the rest of its board and will soon launch a marketing effort and membership drive.

International chapters

First formed in London last year, the BCMA now also has chapters in Australia, Germany and the Netherlands, and has over 100 members worldwide, repping ad agencies and their clients, gamemakers, filmmakers, TV producers and publishers. Members include WPP Group, Omnicom Group, Interpublic Group of Cos., IBM, MasterCard and Bacardi.

BBH London's director of content, Mark Boyd, serves as the chairman of the BCMA's U.K. branch. The Australia chapter's first meeting will take place on Nov. 25, headed by that group's chairman, James Greet, CEO of media agency OMD Australia.

Ms. Gallop said the creation of the U.S. chapter seemed obvious.

'The age of engagement'

"It seemed extraordinary that something like this didn't exist in the U.S. already," she said. "Branded content is at the forefront of the U.S. marketing agenda. It's one of the key things marketers are talking about. We've moved from the age of interruption to the age of engagement where we have to reach out to consumers with truly creative and compelling messages. The BCMA will be a way for people to come together and facilitate making things happen. It'll let people develop more inventive approaches and tangible deliveries that result in very clear case studies that can inspire everybody else."

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