Turner Launches Turner Ignite Branded Content Studio

Anderson Cooper Conan O'Brien Turner TNT
Amy Sussman/Rex/Shutterstock/REX

TBS, TNT and the other entertainment-focused cable networks owned by AT&T’s Turner make all kinds of programs for viewers. A new unit that is launching is about to start helping advertisers do the same

Turner has named Greg T. Gordon as the vice president and creative director of Turner Ignite Studios, the latest operation at Turner devoted to developing so-called “branded content,” or advertising made to emulate the programming and intellectual property that draws fans to the company’s cable networks in the first place. Turner already operates similar studios devoted to CNN and its Turner Sports division. Jennifer Cohen, senior vice president of content partnerships for Turner Ignite will oversee the new studio

“TBS, TNT TruTV and Adult Swim are the properties we are going basically to be focused on and creating branded content in the voice of those networks,” says Cohen, in an interview.

The move comes as Madison Avenue shows increased interest in video advertising that echoes the programs and images to which viewers are attracted and less in the sort of “interruptive” commercial breaks that have long been served up as the normal accompaniment to TV programming. Advertisers are also showing new interest in working more nimbly, setting up their own in-house marketing operations at a quick clip. The Association of National Advertisers recently reported that 78% of its members had some sort of in-house agency in 2018. Compared with 58% in 2013 and 42% in 2008.The group said 44% of respondents established an  in-house agency was established in the past five years.

Several of Turner’s networks, notably Adult Swim, already make efforts to weave advertisers into the flow of their programs, and that work will continue, says Cohen. The new Turner Ignite Studios  will focus on developing new ideas and original intellectual property for clients as well as “white-label” work that produces stand-alone content for advertiser.

Gordon, who joined Turner in October, was recently the head of video operations at Vox Media. “I’m in listening mode right now,” he says in an interview. “What we are really interested in is making things that are really worth peoples’ time on the Internet and in the digital and social space.” He expects his staff to be doing everything from hanging out in the writers’ rooms of various Turner programs to developing content that can be sent from the Twitter feeds of sundry Turner properties.