Company to infuse pop culture into marketing

Brett Ratner is getting into the branded entertainment biz, launching Brett Ratner Brands as a consultancy to infuse a dose of pop culture into clients’ marketing campaigns.

Venture’s first work bowed during Fox’s “American Idol” finale Wednesday: two spots for Activision’s hit game franchise “Guitar Hero” featuring the season’s two remaining singers playing out an iconic scene from “Risky Business.”

In the two 30-second spots, one starring winner David Cook and David Archuleta, the contestants bound around their living rooms in their underwear lip- and guitar-syncing to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” the same way Tom Cruise did in the hit 1983 pic. Naturally, the two are holding the “Guitar Hero” guitar.

“They were the same spots with the same music, but they were different because the charisma and characters of the two Davids are so different,” said Ratner, who helmed the spots.

Ratner doesn’t see his new venture replacing the role of an ad agency.

“I have a film career,” he said. “The ad agency serves a specific purpose, and they’re creative as well. I can collaborate with them to help their clients. It’s all about connecting with audiences through the use of storytelling. Young people today are sensitive to being sold to. They sense when that happens and don’t respond to it.”

Activision tied “Guitar Hero” in with “American Idol” because of the show’s music focus and the nationwide appeal of its contestants.

Ratner will continue brainstorming ideas for spots and campaigns for Activision, currently his brand unit’s only client.

In addition to the “American Idol” spots, he’d also integrated “Guitar Hero 3″ into Mariah Carey’s musicvideo for “Touch My Body.”

Ratner now hopes the relationship with the gamemaker leads to pic projects.

“The games business is much more exciting than the movie business right now,” Ratner said. “I will be doing movies that come from videogames,” adding that he’ll now have “access to the Activision brain” and the people who create its games.

The “Risky Business” spots, produced by ad agency DDB and H.S.I. Prods, can be seen on Guitarhero.com and have made the rounds online, posted on sites including YouTube. They’ll also get more spins on TV.

“Guitar Hero” will add three titles this year, including Nintendo DS and Aerosmith editions, as well as the newest installment, “Guitar Hero World Tour.”

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