×

IPG Mediabrands, the agency behind IFC’s new documentary “Dear Santa,” is launching Traverse32, a development and entertainment company aimed at flipping the script on traditional branded content.

Much like “Dear Santa,” which was supported by the U.S. Postal Service, Traverse32 will develop, produce and distribute entertainment content in partnership with influential brands.

Other notable projects from Mediabrands’ UM Studios in recent years include the 2018 AIDS documentary “5B,” the first brand-funded film to play at the Cannes Film Festival, and the 2020 release, “OSO: History of an Icon,” which premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival and is now available on Amazon Prime Video.

Traverse32 co-founder Brendan Gaul, Mediabrands’ recently appointed first-ever Global Chief Content Officer, will simultaneously serve as its Global President.

“Our goal is to open the door for brands to participate in the monetization of what they create, while also giving them meaningful opportunities to interact with consumer audiences as they never have before,” Gaul said. “Through Traverse32, we look forward to successfully reinventing the entertainment model by bridging the gap between media and storytelling in new and innovative ways.”

Gaul will be responsible for creative development, acquisitions, and distribution of original narrative and unscripted projects for the new entity. He will be joined by longtime producing partner Brett Henenberg who also serves as Co-Founder and Global Head of Production for Traverse32. Upcoming projects include a narrative feature film, several documentaries and scripted/non-scripted TV formats.

“Dear Santa,” which currently has a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, was directed by Dana Nachman (“Batkid Begins,” “Pick of the Litter”) and shines a light on the 100-year-old Operation Santa program of the United States Postal Service.  It recently opened in theaters nationwide and is available on-demand.

“Brendan and Brett have been able to develop projects that actually work for distributors, which is not so easy,” said Josh Braun, who repped “Dear Santa” for Submarine Entertainment. “The fact that a project received some brand funding doesn’t matter when the end result is high quality entertainment that doesn’t smell like a commercial.”