Thompson plans to Amplify brand

Ad agency likes sound of product-placement pacts

Advertising agency J. Walter Thompson has expanded its branded entertainment efforts, launching Amplify, created through the merger of its brand entertainment group with Hill & Knowlton’s Showcase.

Amplify will oversee the integration of clients into all forms of entertainment through content development and product-placement deals for the Chicago-based agency.

Company is expected to serve as a resource for all companies of WPP, the parent of J. Walter Thompson and Hill & Knowlton.

Amplify will be based in Los Angeles and run by executive director Rob Donnell. Company will have offices in Detroit and New York.

Amplify’s main client is the Ford Motor Co. It handles entertainment marketing efforts for Ford’s global marketing group and all of its brands — Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Mazda, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin.

J. Walter Thompson’s previous brand entertainment group has brokered a number of film and TV deals for Ford, including vehicle placements and sponsorship deals with Fox’s “American Idol” and “24” as well as ABC’s “Alias.” Ford also supplied most of the cars and ponied up more than $30 million to promote recent James Bond actioner “Die Another Day.”

The brand entertainment group most recently landed the Lincoln Navigator SUV in Revolution Studio’s upcoming roadtrip laffer “Are We There Yet?” to star Ice Cube.

Showcase served as a product-placement entity operating under the Hill & Knowlton moniker.

“We have seen first hand the significant return on marketing investment that can be gained by using entertainment as a strategic brand-building tool,” Donnell said. “Our goal is to leverage popular culture to create breakthrough ideas that surround our clients’ brands with compelling entertainment experiences that connect with consumers in channels of their choosing.”

J. Walter Thompson is no stranger to branded entertainment, having created radio and TV programming as the “Lux Radio Theater,” “Kraft Music Hall” and “Kraft Television Theater.”

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