February 25, 2024

Media Agency to Host Event for Branded Content

The event, to be held on Tuesday, is expected to bring together about 35 marketers and a dozen content creators. The marketers are to include blue-chip names like Clorox, FedEx, Lowe’s, McDonald’s, J. C. Penney, Pepsico, State Farm and Wells Fargo.

The content creators are to include Awesomeness TV, part of DreamWorks Animation SKG; BabyFirstTV; Maker Studios; Revolt TV, from Sean Combs; and Viacom.

The event is being sponsored by OMD, part of the Omnicom Media Group division of the Omnicom Group, and its marketer clients are to attend. OMD executives have given the event the puckish name of the Final Front, playing on the names for the advance sales of commercial time on television and online, known as the upfronts and the Digital Content NewFronts.

Although “the name is meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek,” said Claudia Cahill, chief content officer at OMD, the goal of the event is serious, “to give our clients a broad swath of opportunities, and some tangible concepts, to go into the market with in 2014.”

Branded content, also called branded entertainment and content marketing, is growing in popularity as advertisers seek ways to work around consumers’ penchant for zipping through or zapping most traditional types of pitches like TV commercials. But branded content usually requires more planning and effort to develop and produce than a 30-second spot, and the long lead times often work against such projects.

The Final Front event is intended to help ease that bottleneck, Ms. Cahill said, because “too often, these clients don’t get to make a decision on big creative ideas.”

The event, being held at the DreamWorks Animation SKG office in Glendale, Calif., is being styled like an auction. After each content creator makes a 15-minute presentation of potential projects, the marketers in the room can hold up a paddle marked “Plan,” signaling a willingness to plan a project with that company, or a paddle marked “Brief,” signaling a lack of enthusiasm for what was presented but a desire to brief that company to come up with another idea.

(Or the marketers could hold up no paddles at all. At least there is a luncheon scheduled after the presentations, along with cocktails later on.)

“I’m excited about this, and here’s why: It’s difficult to put the right message in front of the right consumer,” said Tim Van Hoof, assistant vice president for marketing communications at State Farm.

“The opportunities to bring brands naturally into the content, with no interruption to the consumer, are a great way to deliver content,” he added.

In the 1950s and 1960s, State Farm was among many marketers that sponsored branded content on television; some viewers can still remember how the company’s sales spiels during “The Jack Benny Program” on CBS were seamlessly stitched into episodes of the show. That was enabled by season-long sponsorships of series, which gave the marketers sufficient time to come up with the branded content and work it out with executives at the networks and the writers and stars of the shows.

“If we can plan with media venues and content creators, we can support with our dollars unique content that consumes will find value in,” Mr. Van Hoof said.

Brian Robbins, chief executive at Awesomeness TV, a YouTube channel for teenagers and preteens that DreamWorks Animation SKG recently acquired, described the OMD Final Front event as “unique,” an assessment he offered, he said, as someone who has been “part of upfront presentations for years and part of the YouTube upfront presentation.”

“I like the idea they’re calling it the Final Front, before the next NewFronts,” he added, laughing.

Being able to have “a direct conversation” with major marketers “is pretty cool,” Mr. Robbins said, adding that he has been pleased with the results of the branded content projects that Awesomeness TV has already created for products like Clearasil.

“We try to do it in a way so it will feel like content, not like an ad,” Mr. Robbins said. Critics complain that many branded content efforts blur the line between editorial content and advertising.

OMD’s participation in the event will involve several units of the agency, including Content Collective, Ignition Factory, the mobile-marketing arm Airwave and Word, which specializes in social media.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/10/business/media/media-agency-to-host-event-for-branded-content.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Icahn Drops Push to Unseat Clorox Board

Icahn, Clorox’s biggest shareholder, last month nominated himself, his son and nine other people for election to the board at the company’s next annual shareholder meeting.

That move came after Clorox directors twice rejected his earlier offers to buy the company.

“Several large shareholders may believe that now is not the best time to run that process, given the deteriorating conditions of the financial markets,” Icahn said in a regulatory filing on Friday.

Beyond that, he said, Clorox’s view is that Icahn’s offer of $80 per share “substantially undervalues” the company.

Nevertheless, Icahn said he continues to believe that a sale is the best way to maximize shareholder value.

Icahn kicked off his proxy fight at Clorox on Aug 19, the day after he lost a battle to get board seats at another target, prescription drug maker Forest Laboratories.

The corporate raider-turned-activist, who is known to take on battles at several companies at the same time, lately has been no stranger to disappointment.

On August 30 he dumped his stake in Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, giving up on a lengthy battle for control of the film studio and producer of the television hit “Mad Men.

Shares in Clorox fell 4.9 percent to $66 in extended trading on Friday.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Andre Grenon)

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=aaf0835b010b238395b1d615ff35d378

DealBook: Icahn Ends His Battle With Lions Gate

Carl C. Icahn is selling his entire stake in Lions Gate.Chip East/Bloomberg NewsCarl C. Icahn is selling his entire stake in Lions Gate.

With his sights set on Clorox, the activist investor Carl C. Icahn is ending his long-running battle over control of Lions Gate Entertainment.

Lions Gate said Tuesday afternoon that Mr. Icahn had agreed to sell off his entire stake in the movie studio. The two parties also agreed to end all litigation between them, the company said in a statement.

Mr. Icahn first sought to buy all of Lions Gate in March 2010, after the company rebuffed his proposal to increase his stake to nearly 30 percent. Since then, Mr. Icahn and Lions Gate have continued to skirmish, with him making several revised bids and conducting and losing a proxy fight to put his five nominees on the company’s board in December.

Mr. Icahn pulled his last bid, of $7.50 a share, ahead of a December shareholder meeting. He had previously lost a court battle to prevent a Lions Gate director, Mark Rachesky, from exchanging debt for equity in a move that diluted Mr. Icahn’s stake to 33 percent from 38 percent.

In its statement, Lions Gate said Mr. Icahn and his son, Brett, had agreed to sell their stake of 44.2 million shares in the company at $7 a share, which it said was approximately the same as their cost basis in buying the stock.

Shares of Lions Gate closed down 3 cents on Tuesday at $7.52, but they later fell to $7.08 in after-hours trading after the company announced the agreement with Mr. Icahn.

Under the terms of the agreement, a Lions Gate company is buying about 11 million shares, while MHR Fund Management, which is controlled by Mr. Rachesky, is buying another 11 million shares. Lions Gate said it would designate one or more parties to buy up to 22.1 million remaining shares.

“We believe that this accretive and antidilutive transaction is in the best interests of all Lions Gate shareholders, and it allows the company to continue to focus on the execution of its long-term business plan,” Jon Feltheimer, Lions Gate’s chief executive, said in the statement.

As of late, Mr. Icahn has been preoccupied with his effort to either take over Clorox or force the company to sell itself in an auction. Mr. Icahn is seeking to replace the entire Clorox board in order to conduct the auction and said Tuesday that he would agree to buy the company for $78 a share if the auction did not produce at least that price.

Lions Gate, in its statement, quoted Mr. Icahn as saying, “As some have noted, my own ’slate’ is pretty full at the time, and I therefore determined that it is a good time to exit.”

Mr. Icahn has not yet responded to a call for further comment.

Perella Weinberg Partners served as outside financial adviser to the Lions Gate board, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen Katz and Heenan Blaikie served as legal counsel.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=69e763aec6e57c6aaddbb1eb40718c81

DealBook: Icahn Makes Bid for Clorox

Clorox bleachJustin Sullivan/Getty ImagesBottles of Clorox bleach in a San Francisco grocery store.Carl C. Icahn's net worth was estimated by Forbes at  $10.5 billion in 2010.Mark Lennihan/Associated PressCarl C. Icahn’s net worth was estimated by Forbes at  $10.5 billion in 2010.

Carl C. Icahn bid $76.50 a share for the household goods maker Clorox, in a proposal that values the company at $10.2 billion, and seems intended to attract other bidders.

The offer, disclosed in a regulatory filing on Friday, represents a 21 percent premium to Clorox shares on Dec. 20, the day before Mr. Icahn began building his stake in the company.

Mr. Icahn, the billionaire investor, disclosed in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that he had sent a letter to Clorox chief executive, Donald R. Knauss, that he would seek to buy all the company shares he did not already own.

Mr. Icahn owns 9.4 percent of the company. He revealed the stake earlier this this year.

The offer, the filing states, is backed by a “highly confident” letter from the investment bank Jefferies Company that it would be able to arrange $7.8 billion in financing for the deal, which would come in addition to equity contributed by Mr. Icahn’s affiliates.

Mr. Icahn wrote in a letter to Mr. Krauss that “while we stand ready and able to buy Clorox, we encourage you to hold an open and friendly “go-shop” sale process,” saying his firm was “confident the process will result in numerous superior bids for this company.”

Citing low interest rates, corporate cash piles and Clorox’s potential to be accretive to other companies’ earnings, Mr. Icahn went on to enumerate potential strategic buyers of the company, including Procter Gamble, Unilever, Colgate Palmolive, Reckitt Benckiser, Kimberly Clark, Henkel and SC Johnson.

Clorox said that its board of directors would review the proposal. The company has hired Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Securities as its financial advisers, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen Katz as legal counsel.

Clorox rose $7.62, or 11.14 percent, to $76.05 in pre-market trading in New York on Friday after slipping $0.56, or 0.81 percent, on Thursday to close at $68.43.

Mr. Icahn, a native of Queens and a graduate of Princeton, founded Icahn Co. in 1968. Since then, he made his name as a corporate raider and activist investor, swooping in on and challenging giants like RJR Nabisco, Phillips Petroleum, Viacom, Uniroyal, Time Warner, Yahoo, Motorola and more recently Lions Gate Entertainment.

His career took a turn this year, however. In March, just months after losing his lieutenant Keith Meister, Mr. Icahn said he would be returning the stakes of investors in his hedge fund to concentrate on running his own money.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=60607ca6af4fdf7190a256e0d6111e4f