Monday, October 30, 2006

Get out of my face, buh-by

Seems folks all over the agency map are scrambling to manufacture content credentials. This week, Adweek has an article (which leads with Dallas agency, Moroch) about the Hollywood caste system laid bare with the advent of branded content production.

Months ago, when CPB started talking about getting into film, and BBH seemed to effortlessly make the jump to TV with Gamekillers, it looked like agencies (good ones, anyway - I'm reserving judgement on Moroch) would just jump right into the fray and start giving Hollywood a run for its money. Atleast it did when we read about it in magazines like Adweek. I mean, C'mon. Who can't come up with a sitcom to go up against The World According to Jim?

Turns out, though, that Hollywood is still holding most of the cards. And while they'll graciously let the wee advertising folk use their production departments, sets, and even celebrities occasionally, the order of clout still goes like this:

Hollywood producers
Hollywood directors
Hollywood A-list actors (Anyone who's starred in the Ocean 11 movies or better)
Hollywood A-minus list producers, directors, and actors
Anyone who's married to one of the above
Anyone who's created or starred in a movie that made more than 10 million
Hollywood B-list (anyone who's been involved in a movie with one of the Coreys)
Sports stars
Porn industry
Hollywood on-set production crew
Cable television
A-List Commercial production (budgets of $2million, pytka, etc)
Commercial production
infommercial production

I may be a little off on the folks at the top, but trust me, the bottom is dead-on accurate.
Kevin Roddy is quoted in the Adweek article:

"When we did Gamekillers, we went in there in the most idiotic way we could have done it," he said. "We developed a treatment and took it to Hollywood. We went into it like a typical agency, with the idea we are going to write it and produce it. [The studio executive] almost kicked me out of his office." He said, "I believe you can make a 30-second commercial. I don't believe you can make a one-hour television program," recalled Roddy. So BBH recruited writers from The Daily Show and sought the help of to get the show on the air.

Pulled from the fire by writers from the Daily Show. That must have been a bitter pill for the creatives over at BBH (whose work I'm highly envious of - I think BBH may be the best agency working in New York.)

Ever dropped the "I'm with the agency" in front of someone like Gwyneth Paltrow? Here's a woman who knows how to let the most rabid fan/stalker down with grace and tact. But the flicker of disappointment that registers on her face when confronted with a glad-handing agency producer lies somewhere between "hide-me" panic and genuine sympathy.

That we eat at the same restaurants is neither here nor there. That we may even engage in brief, albeit stilted conversation with Bruce Willis , washing hands in the bathroom at the Viper room (this happened to a guy I used to work with) does not put us even in the same realm as their make-up artists. They've grown to trust those people in a way that they'd never trust an agency.

Why? Agencies are in it for the client, not the star. No one is less cool than the client. Even a cool client. At the end of the day, branded content isn't about the actors or even the fans. It's about selling a bottle of Axe spray - and that just isn't part of the Hollywood thing.


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