Brian Grazer, FX’s ‘Sunny’ Seek Advertisers for New Content Gambits

Brian Steinberg

Brian Grazer just pitched his latest project to Madison Avenue – but only a handful of residents were able to get a peek.

The Imagine Entertainment co-founder was among a handful of TV producers and studios this week making outreach to clients of Omnicom Group, the large advertising-agency holding company. Each year, the company’s media-buying operations, which includes agencies like OMD, PHD and Hearts & Science holds a showcase known as a “Final Front,” which brings together media outlets seeking to strike deals with the company’s blue-chip clients, which these days include Procter & Gamble, McDonalds, State Farm and Apple.

In the past, the assemblage has focused largely on weaving advertisers into new content ideas, but this year, the emphasis is shifting, said Claudia Cahill, chief content officer of Omnicom Media Group, in an interview (pictured, above). Marketers see video being distributed acorss mobile screens and want to incorporate that into the plans they concoct with TV programs, she said. “Content is being created everywhere and our partenrs are much more open and willing to customize,” she said.

Grazer’s pitch serves as an interesting example of the ideas that were bandied about at the meetings, which included presentations from media outlets including NBCUniversal, Viacom, Vice, CW, Conde Nast, BuzFeed, AwesomenessTV, PopSugar, Upworthy and LiveNation. The producer offered a look at “Chasing Genius,” a companion to a new scripted series called “Genius” that is being readied for debut on National Geographic Channel. The main series profiles innovators like Albert Einstein. But “Chasing Genius” looks at teams using crowdsourcing to gain insights to solve global challenges.

FX put a spotlight on a companion series to the networks’ longrunning comedy, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Dubbed “Project Bad Ass,” the new project offers to bring an advertiser into a virtual-reality series aimed at fans of “Sunny.” Viewers get to “join” the character “Mac” from “Sunny” as he set out on various – and often ill-fated – extreme sports stunts. Producers see an “unprecedented opportunity for brands to become part of the action and engage with consumers in a cutting-edge and exciting new medium,” said Eric Schrier, president of original programming, FX Networks and FX Productions, in a statement.

Then idea of the “Final Front” is to give Omnicom clients first crack at developing interesting content alliances before others might get word of them. Getting early notice of such availabilities has become more important on Madison Avenue, where many advertisers are trying to build new ways to support programs that aren’t as distracting as the typical 30-second TV ad, which tends to interrupt an audience increasingly able to turn to other content thanks to new technology.

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