Filmmaker Proposes Brand Integration Curriculum

In an effort to institutionalize branded content, Stephen Mitchell, creator of the 80's television show Interview, has proposed a writing curriculum, called Branded Alliance, to educate people on the creation of brand integrated concepts suitable for feature films, television, alternative media and games. Mitchell hopes the course creates a pool of talent capable of generating entertainment/advertising content for marketers.

Mitchell says the course will stress a conceptual and innovative approach to the subject of brand integration. Students will be instructed in the art of blending story content and corporate message in a manner that is seamless. "Unlike product placement, which can be done by the numbers, there is no single definition of branded entertainment," Mitchell says. "It also forces us to redefine 'product,' for it can be a label, an idea, a city or anything else that that has the backing of corporate partner. At least this sounds a bit more honest than the television show which duped viewers (Hollywood elite) into believing the interviews were real versus stunts to promote Mitchell's work.

Mitchell describes the course thusly:

The purpose of this course is to teach the writer to think creatively within a structured format to blend the requirements of both producer and corporate partner in creating a motion picture, television or alternative media venue in such a manner as to appeal to the public.

The first part of the course will introduce and define the concept of branded entertainment. Unlike product placement, which is the appearance of identifiable products within a scene of a film or TV show, branded entertainment implies a conceptual link between the product and the story to such a degree that the story could hardly be told without the alliance.

The second part of the course will be a review of the three-act structure as it applies to screenplays. Even if the ultimate application of the branded project is to be a video game, the dynamics of story development must be understood and incorporated into the project.

The third part of the course will require the writer to select a product with whom to create a branded alliance. This can be a very creative step in the protocol, as the writer will have to refine his/her definition of a product in making a selection. Is it something bearing a recognizable logo that can be purchased in a store or is it an idea that a particular corporation would like to promote?

The fourth part of the course will involve the writing of a screenplay, teleplay or narrative outline (in the case of a game or alternative media project). The result will be analyzed on how well the product was integrated into the story or action so as to appear as a creative rather than an advertising element.

The fifth part of the course will instruct the writer on how to approach and contact the product’s corporation and make a presentation for a proposed branded alliance. These actions will actually be performed by the student with coaching from the instructor as part of this section.

The sixth part of the course will be instruction on how to approach and pitch major production companies, film studios, networks or game manufactures with the branded alliance. The student will make contact with the studio, coached by the instructor.

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (1)     File: Product Placement     Oct- 3-05  
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Though Steve Hall had no way of knowing, each of the 500 half-hour segments of the Interview series carried the actor's name in the end credit roll. That certainly didn't change the fact that the performances were compelling and persuasive. When television critic David Gritten acted one for me, even he couldn't see where the truth began and ended in his own performance.

Posted by: Stephen Mitchell on October 3, 2005 08:03 PM

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