Maker of “Big Mini Cooper Moment” Tells All

President of Davie-Brown Entertainment
Listen to AUDIO of the Interview >>


It’s rare that the words “Mini Cooper” and “The Italian Job” aren’t mentioned in the same breathe. It was Tom Meyer, President of Davie-Brown Entertainment, who constructed the perfect integration with Paramount Pictures. He oversees entertainment marketing opportunities for his clients which include Pepsi, Hewlett-Packard, Daimler Chrysler and PlayStation.




More Information:

  • Recent Campaigns
  • President Tom Meyer’s Bio
  • Davie-Brown Adds PINK to Client List
  • People: DBE’s Schneider Forges Media Ties

Here are Highlights of Mr. Meyer’s Interview:

Company Overview

  • Davie-Brown Entertainment has been in business for 20 years and was set in motion in 1985 by Pepsi-Cola, who was concerned about how much exposure their competitor had in the entertainment space.
  • The company started out primarily as a product placement company and has evolved over the years to be one of the premiere entertainment marketing agencies in Hollywood.
  • They are an entertainment marketing consultancy with activation capabilities in the area of product integration, branded content, events, celebrity relations, music, video gaming, etc.
  • They try to make entertainment and brands come together to touch on three things: emotion, engagement and experience.
  • They recently added Victoria’s Secret PINK to their client list.


“Utility-Type Products” Versus “Lifestyle-Type Products”

  • A lot of people use the word “integration” to define product placement. However, integration is the evolution of branded entertainment product placement.
  • . It is a planned, pay-for-play, designed event and that is guaranteed to appear in particular properties like TV or film.
  • Technology products today lend themselves to very natural organic integration into media properties, which is why Meyers started to think about defining products into two categories: utility and lifestyle.
  • When you put a soda on a table, it becomes an extra on the show as opposed to an actor and doesn’t do very much. It is considered a “lifestyle-type product”. However, when you put products like HP cameras and printers in a scene, the actor can use them, giving the products a purpose and making them part of the story line. These products are considered “utility-type products.”
  • A brand fits best with a show when the product is utilitarian as opposed to something in that lifestyle arena. Therefore the question remains, “When we are doing these deals, how do we put products into a more organic and authentic situation?”


Why is Branded Entertainment Important?

  • People are searching for the next great advertising model.
  • As we move into this era of technology, which allows you to bypass advertisers’ messages, the one thing that people do not seem to bypass is the content.
  • If brands can weave products into a message where it fits, they are not going to run into the problem of being “Tivo-ed Out.”
  • Building brands into the context of an entertainment property is great, but Meyer does not think this is the “end-all-be-all” answer to advertising, due to the amount of time and energy involved in deal development.
  • The 30-second spot is incredibly portable and offers brands a level of frequency, which is much harder to do with integration.


Making the Deal

  • Branded entertainment as advertising and marketing is still in its infancy, therefore; there is no standard or model for making a deal right now.
  • In general, the process gets started in two ways:
    1. At the networks, where they have an opportunity for a category like insurance.Their ad sales folks then call and offer that opportunity to the media buying agency for a company like State Farm.
    2. From an entertainment agency like Davie-Brown or an ad agency along with the client. They develop an idea and take it to the networks, where the producers would hopefully organically weave the idea into a show.
  • They approach deals by understanding the clients’ goals and objectives. They then figure the right scenario, the right fit for a brand in a certain show. For example, HP technology might fit very well in a show like Alias, which has a technology bent. If there is a fit with a brand and the show, DBE will concept a few ideas.
  • These specific ideas are not expected to get sold to production because DBE does not ultimately understand what it takes to make that show so great. But they will help transition the brand’s goals and objectives in a way that fits with the producers’ and the writers’ goal of making a great TV show.
  • Davie-Brown Entertainment would prefer to work organically bottom up and come up with the idea first before it becomes a transaction at the top and you have to force fit something in with a show.
  • Balancing the advancement with creating good entertainment can make negotiations challenging. Therefore, the hardest part of making a deal is coming up with an idea that everyone is going to agree on.


Blockbuster Vs. Independent Film Integrations

  • To start, the brand has to know what it wants; Are they going for huge impact value or something more grassroots and viral?
  • Massive properties like “Mission Impossible” come with a high cost and can be problematic because the film doesn’t need the brand as much as the brand needs the film. There is also a high risk because a brand may not get what it wants, since a “Tom Cruise” might sign a “No” by a brand’s request.
  • On the positive side, a “Mission Impossible” is a big property that is going to make a lot of money and attract a lot of eyeballs. A brand might also want to be connected to the iconic nature of the film’s franchise.
  • With smaller, independent films like “Sideways”, a brand hopes that it catches on with audiences.
  • If you are a brand like Pepsi or HP, who are a category leaders and need to make a statement, you are usually going to be associated with a big film.
  • In many cases, it makes sense for smaller brands without a lot of resources, to work with a smaller property. This will give smaller brands more value in terms of assets. It will also give brands a more prominent position in the property, because the property needs the promotional exposure.


Reality Versus Scripted Shows

  • It makes sense for products to be in reality shows, because of the fairly organic integrations offered considering its real environment. However, a lot of these reality shows are “pretty cheesy” and brands may not want to be featured in that particular light.
  • The real growth opportunity for in-content brand integration is in the scripted area because a brand can control a message a little more and chose specific scenarios in a show.
  • The majority of programming on TV, at least the network primetime is scripted, which allows brands to pull from a bigger pool of content.

Financial Perspective

  • Deals are done in many different ways and there is no specific CPM model like in the 30-second spot space.
  • These are the current deals that exist:
    1. Fee only deal.
    2. A fee plus incremental media, where a network wants a brand to buy a certain number of spots.
    3. The branded content realm, where a brand brings a show to the network, barters commercial time and gives the network something to sell.
  • The most prevalent model right now: A fee deal plus media, where fees can range anywhere from $20,000 to $1,000,000.
  • Most of these deals are on the lower end of this range: Under half a million dollars for fees plus costs for a few spots.
  • People mention the $2.5 million number when referring to “The Apprentice” integration, however; Mark Burnett is the only constructing such high-cost deals. There have also been recent speculations that he probably is not charging as much anymore.
  • Fees really depend on the show’s ratings and Meyer tends to benchmark pricing against a 30-second spot. Therefore, integration into a highly-rated show like “Desperate Housewives,” will cost more than a lower-rated show on a lower-rated network like NBC. Costs also depend on the amount of exposure a brand gets.


How to Get a CFO/CMO to Sign Off

  • Clients should be willing to take some risks and do things differently.
  • Frame a scenario to the client based on the time on screen and how closely it hits a brand’s values.
  • Build a much more integrated solution for clients, which has more legs than just that on-screen viewing.
  • Take on-channel experiences off-channel. Take it beyond the TV show and tie it to an activation element like online sweepstakes to achieve a goal, which becomes measurable. For example, when “The Apprentice” prompted viewers to go to for more experiences.
  • Building measure components into the campaign are best ways to convince the client to sign on to a campaign.


Mini Cooper and the “The Italian Job”: Best Branded Entertainment Film Work

  • Davie-Brown Entertainment is most proud of what they did with the “The Italian Job” and client, Mini Cooper.
  • Mini Cooper was a brand that was going to be updated and introduced in the U.S.Davie-Brown Entertainment figured out the Mini Cooper had been in the “The Italian Job” film a cult favorite film shot in the late 1960s.
  • They initially wanted to get the film produced, but found out that Paramount already owned the rights and the film was not in active-development.
  • Instead, Mini Cooper launched its own advertising campaign, which helped Paramount learn more about the brand.
  • The film ended up getting a green light to go into production, and Mini Cooper was involved in the process.
  • The movie was given Mini Cooper 32 cars. The auto company spent a lot of money just on cars, parts and support and although it was a major endeavor for a very small car company, it turned out to be the best and classic example of integration into a film and was the news for Mini in its second year.


Kahlua, and the Conde Nast Traveler: Best Branded Entertainment TV Work

  • Davie-Brown, Kahlua, and Conde Nast Traveler concepted a TV show called “Bring Home the Exotic” and sold it to Oxygen about exotic travel locations.
  • In a segment in every show, a different Kahlua drink is showcased according to each location. For example, one of the locations that they go to is the Riviera Maya in Mexico and the special drink associated with that is the exotic White Russian.
  • Davie-Brown Entertainment retains editorial control of the program.
  • The company is also constructing an online campaign with AOL and The Biz for its PlayStation client. The Biz is an online reality series produced by Stick Figure Prods/Warner Music/AOL. PlayStation is in the online show as prizing, offering an opportunity to win a PlayStation portable package with some accessories. PlayStation wants consumers to interact with it outside the show and the sweepstakes achieves that goal.


Measuring ROI for Clients

  • Measuring ROI is the most difficult challenge, and if anyone in this business says they have a solution, you are getting a line.
  • Davie-Brown Entertainment’s measurement techniques start by evaluating the quantitative side: the number of eyeballs who have seen the campaign. Then, they always try to add a qualitative factor to it.
  • Davie-Brown Entertainment has spoken with all the well-known new measurement companies like, ITVX, IAG, and Nielsen — and have not found one with the “killer app”.
  • Since clients are in different spaces, some of the measurement tools may be the same, but ultimately the ROI models are customized for every client.


The Future: Will the Bubble Burst?

  • It feels like the world a little bit where there will be a huge bubble burst. However, it will be a slow airing bubble as people realize that it is tough to make money in this business or do it really well.
  • Meyer thinks there will soon be shakeout of all the newly created branded entertainment companies who do not have sustainable business. Many will fall by the wayside.
  • There are also going to be some failures in this space. There have already been some high-profile failures and there will be more because it is tough to understand and maneuver the entertainment world.


Upcoming Trends

  • Clients are asking for more assets and ways to get closer to entertainment properties and all its elements.
  • Clients know they need to market differently today and asking for more consumer involvement and interactivity with a brand.
  • In the past, just a few brands were involved in this space, hiring celebrities to be placed in their ads or immersing themselves in shows or films. Going forward, the activity around using entertainment is going to continue to increase.
  • The idea of entertainment marketing has caught on and will be a substantial piece of the marketing arsenal of everyone of the major companies and of some smaller companies too.