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Agency puts brand on content

World Brief

SINGAPORE — An agency is hoping to matchmake Asia’s Madison and Vine for TV content that’s new here — branded entertainment.

Octtane, set up by Nick Marrett, former CEO of ad agency Batey, and ex-senior veep of Discovery Networks Asia Lesley Campbell, aims to take local advertisers where no other has gone before. But crossing that final frontier from 30-second ad to 30-minute show is proving a difficult concept for some Asian advertisers to grasp.

“This is not product placement or brand sponsorship. It is more fundamental,” says Octtane chairman and CEO Marrett. “It involves the creation of an entertainment experience — for film, TV or the Web — from the ground up, based squarely on the values and philosophies of the client’s brand. The brand is a natural, integral part of the story.”

Plans in the pipeline include “Liquid Soap,” an interactive drama series with production partners MediaCorp.

“We have been talking with telcos in Malaysia, India, Taiwan and China for a regional rollout,” says Octtane’s senior commercial VP Lesley Campbell.

Octtane say tourism boards are keen to embrace the concept. “They see the long-term benefit of great entertainment filmed in one of their locations vs. a 30-second TV commercial,” Campbell adds.

Still, other advertisers are slow to commit and are awaiting Asia’s first success story before following suit.

Branded entertainment paid off Stateside this summer for ABC’s six-episode Sunday night series “The Days,” part-produced by media-buying agency MindShare and Tollin/Robbins Prods.

ABC and MindShare split the show’s commercial time, with the media buyer selling units directly to its clients, including Unilever, which also took an ownership stake in the show — and whose products popped up in organic ways.

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