Product placement has been key to the production of many web series recently, but it’s about to hit a new level. Brand In Entertainment, a Los Angeles firm specializing in partnering brands with content, will be holding its first-ever auction Jan. 20 at Christie’s in New York for companies interested in inserting their brands into a number of major media properties, including the upcoming Keanu Reeves movie Henry’s Crime and the Showtime series Weeds.
And included in the stable of content being offered are new seasons of five web series: Streamy-nominated post-apocalyptic drama After Judgment, Beverly Hills 90210 producer Charles Rosin’s Showbizzle, “broadband motion picture” Who Shot Mamba, Wall Street comedy series Hedge Fund, and The Fine Brothers’ My Profile Story (only the pilot of which was produced by Atom.com). (
Blake Calhoun’s Pink was originally one of the web series to be included, but its deal with production company Generate prevents it from seeking third-party sponsorship deals. According to a Generate rep, Pink and Blake Calhoun
are not contractually prohibited from seeking third-party deals, but
the show was prematurely submitted for the auction and withdrawn per
The minimum bid at the auction will be $50,000, to be advanced in $20,000 increments, which may seem trivial to a brand getting a shot at Keanu drinking its beer or wearing its apparel, but is a significant amount of money in the web series world, where complete series are often produced on a professional level with much less of a budget.
The nature of the auction process means that the producers of the series included in this event won’t be able to pick who ultimately chooses to sponsor them. However, they were able to control what five brand categories they would be eligible for, ranging from soft drinks to candy to cars. The proceeds will be allocated for production as well as for promotion — a potential deal with Eventful (which was behind the Paramount Paranormal Activity campaign) is currently in the works.
The deal to include these shows in BiE’s auction came together thanks to Gennefer Snowfield of Space Truffles Entertainment, who sees it as an opportunity to increase mainstream awareness of the web series world. “The biggest problem we have is discovery, as most brands equate web series with a guy who slaps something up on YouTube,” she said via phone. “They don’t realize that this is a viable form of entertainment that gets audiences in front of shows. Being able to work with brands in a traditional way legitimizes the medium.”
The only possible problem lies in the choice of series — all have potential, but I’ve never been blown away by Hedge Fund, and while Showbizzle improved from one incarnation to the next, it was only by a small margin. However, the opportunity this opens up for series of all quality levels isn’t one to be ignored.