Branded content: still an ‘alien’ world for UK prodcos?

Krempelwood is a UK-based branded entertainment company which specializes in connecting brands with independent producers to help fill funding gaps. Realscreen spoke with co-founder Blair Krempel about the possibilities he would like to see open up for product placement in UK television, and explains what branding opportunities currently exist for producers and broadcasters in the UK.
March 25, 2010

Krempelwood is a UK-based branded entertainment company which specializes in connecting brands with independent producers to help fill funding gaps. Co-founders Mark Wood and Blair Krempel (hence the name) monitored the industry for four years before deciding to launch the business. Wood came from 19 Entertainment where he was head of brands, and had previous experience as head of sponsorship at Sky TV. Krempel is the former owner of Sponsorvision, an agency that also specialized in branded TV content, where he brokered the relationship between Cadbury and Coronation Street.

Krempel says the reason they decided the time was right to launch nearly two years ago came down to broadcasters feeling the pressure of lighter revenues and tighter budgets and the inexperience they saw in indie producers working with brands. ‘Production companies have a great skill in conceiving program ideas and producing engaging television,’ says Krempel, ‘but when it comes to talking with the marketing community, in terms of brands and agencies, it’s a whole world that is slightly alien to them.’

The other element was, of course, the brands themselves, which Krempel and Wood saw as needing more innovative ways to engage consumers. ‘Content is seen very much as an opportunity to engage with a consumer around a subject matter that they have some passion or some interest in, and actually enter into a dialogue,’ he says. ‘So it’s more of a potential two-way conversation for the brand than perhaps straight spot advertising is.’

Since the UK government only just announced that it will allow product placement in television programs, and Ofcom has yet to decide how that placement will be implemented, there are only certain opportunities Krempelwood has to connect brands with programming. The relationship is restricted to existing around the program, rather than in it, so they can get acknowledgments in areas such as sponsorship credits, bumpers in and out of commercial breaks and program support in a show’s online incarnation. Take for instance Krempelwood’s partnership with Blink Films on Chinese Food in Minutes (pictured) for Five. Krempelwood brought Premiere Food’s Sharwood’s (a brand of Chinese, Indian and Thai sauces) on board to sponsor the show. Aside from simply giving the brand bumpers in and out of commercial breaks, Sharwood received extra content from the program to screen on its website as well as recipes written for the brand by the host of the program.

What Krempel hopes the allowance of product placement will inspire is the opportunity for brands to interact with the creators of a program so that a brand or product can be integrated into a show in a natural way. ‘From our point of view whatever is going to be permitted is going to be another piece of inventory that we can offer to brands and their agencies,’ says Krempel. ‘We don’t think that product placement is going to be the panacea to the funding crisis that faces broadcasters in itself, but for us it’s another positive.’

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.