Publicis Media furthers DEI bets with multiyear content pact focused on streaming

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Publicis Media and its APX Content Ventures unit struck a multiyear deal to produce long-form content with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, per a news release.
  • The first effort from the partnership, titled “Inside The Black Box,” hits at the media company’s Crackle Plus streaming service in mid-February. The 10-part series hosted by actor Joe Morton and celebrity acting coach Tracey Moore explores the experience of being Black in Hollywood. It features interviews and performance segments with star guests.
  • The General serves as sponsor and will receive access to special media placements, including pre-roll ads, QR code integrations, in-show content integrations and a dedicated VIP section for live attendees called “The General Audience.” The insurance marketer will also appear on a Crackle in-app Jumbotron. Publicis Media paired the brand and program based on a shared sense of values, showing the agency taking a more tailored approach.

Dive Insight:

Publicis Media and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment are deepening their commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) through a multiyear production deal. The partnership points to the opportunities agencies see in developing custom content and media strategies for ad-supported streaming services that hold increasing sway over viewers while cord-cutting accelerates. Such platforms allow brands to reach consumers in more interactive ways, such as QR codes and in-app activations, along with through traditional product integrations and media placements.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment acquired full ownership of Crackle Plus from Sony Pictures Television in late 2020. The service is distributed through 60 “touch points,” with announced plans to expand to 80 including Amazon FireTV, RokuTV, Apple TV and other smart TV platforms. It is also available in approximately 500,000 hotel rooms through a tie-up with Marriott Bonvoy.

APX Content Ventures is a unit within Publicis Media that focuses on amplifying diverse perspectives through mission-driven projects. It will invest in the front end of programming with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, while Publicis Media seeks out brand partners that align with a given initiative’s core values. From there, Publicis Media will devise custom advertising executions across a number of channels.

“Inside The Black Box,” which has been in development since 2019, is indicative of the type of programming that agencies are paying more attention to after a widespread reckoning with race in 2020. It is the “first of many co-produced programs” expected to come from the new Crackle Plus-Publicis Media agreement.

Agencies broadly have pledged to up their commitments to diverse-owned media. Publicis Groupe last summer invested $25 million in APX Content Ventures to promote more diverse content creation, a move that was part of a larger equity-focused initiative. Earlier in 2021, IPG Mediabrands hosted the industry’s first equity-focused upfront event, with presentations from Allen Media Group/Entertainment Studios, BET Network, Essence Communications and Urban One. The group more recently started licensing a tech solution that can quantify diversity figures in streaming and linear TV programming.

The deal arrives as Publicis debuts a “consciously inclusive marketplace” to provide better access to diverse publishers serving underrepresented communities and media that adheres to a fresh set of inclusive values developed by the agency, MediaPost first reported. The DIME marketplace, an acronym for diverse and inclusive media exchange, was incubated at Publicis’ Spark Foundry unit and is also available to clients of its Starcom and Zenith units.

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