Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Mediabrands named former Entertainment Weekly Publisher Scott Donaton to lead a new branded-entertainment unit dubbed Ensemble. As president-CEO of Ensemble, he’ll have a shared reporting structure to stakeholders in the unit, which includes Universal McCann, Initiative and strategic-advisory firm Media Link. In his new role, Mr. Donaton will give clients of Initiative and Universal McCann a first look at projects and direct access to strategic branded-entertainment opportunities. Universal McCann works with marketers such as Microsoft and Nationwide, while Initiative’s clients include Home Depot, MillerCoors and Bayer.
I hope Scott can move past mere product placement. Garden variety brand integrations are getting more screen time as TV producers and networks look to make up revenue lost in the ad downturn, with products increasingly garnering mentions in scripts. Dr Pepper was mentioned prominently by characters in a recent episode of “90210” on CW, while references to Coca-Cola Co. product vitaminwater made their way into a recent episode of the CW’s “Gossip Girl.” (The Boston Globe)