The B.E. Upfronts

What if brands pitched in to fill the prime-time void?

What if brands pitched in to fill the prime-time void?

With networks cancelling pilots during the writers’ strike, and so little time to catch up now they’re back, there’s going to be slim pickings on the new drama front at the L.A. screenings.

Given brands’ predilection for being more entertaining lately (PQ Media projects that branded entertainment will grow by 14% this year), we thought, why not seize the opportunity to put them in a starring role? Maybe it’s time for prime-time series developed by CPG cos to help brighten up the reality wasteland. The Branded Entertainment Upfronts, if you will. Our collaborators pitched the following premises…

One more reason Macs trump PCs

A twentysomething, introverted, optimistic and imaginative digital illustrator/artist suffers a major loss when his PC dies. Fed up, he buys that MacBook Pro he’s been eyeing. Finally, he’s got his dream toy, little realizing that his life and the lives of others will forever change.

The day he brings home his beloved new Mac, he sees a news story about a horrible train wreck with a death toll in the hundreds. Saddened, he begins to digitally draw the train wreck, but one in which all the passengers are unharmed. The following day, he hears on the news that there were indeed no victims from the wreck, and the image of the site is exactly what he had drawn the night before.

Through a series of similar events, he begins to realize that through the power of his Mac he has the ability to change the future. A reluctant hero, we see him struggle with the burden and blessing of this gift and the consequences of his actions in altering the future…oh, and of course all the great features of the Mac as well!

-Min Ryuck, interactive communications manager, Dentsu Canada

Beautiful Gladiators

In a bid to capture both male and female viewers, network execs demand a brand-friendly Cashmere Mafia-meets-Stargate SG-1 option. The winner is Beautiful Gladiators, a futuristic drama.

The year is 2078, and the U.S. and Canada have become ‘The United States & Provinces’ (USP for short). Umpteen mergers have created a supercompany known as ‘Proctor & Unilever & Gamble & Frigidaire & Autozone & Campbells & eBay’ (PUGFACE) which is the centrepiece of Beautiful Gladiators. Naturally, PUGFACE has the financial resources to attract the best, brightest and most beautiful people to work in its sexy downtown HQ at BCE Rogers Telus Place. In the 2050s, it became all the rage to name children after your favourite brand. As such, our characters include Febreze, a doe-eyed blonde who smells wonderful, Brawny, a strapping young man who fancies plaid shirts, and Dove, the curvaceous girl next door with lovely skin.

It’s a highly competitive work environment where dandruff is not tolerated and issues are played out ad nauseam at lunch in the food court. (Interestingly, scientists cured inflation back in the 2030s, so Wendy’s still has Value Menu items priced under $2.) Business is cutthroat. And when interpersonal problems can’t be resolved between these sexy singles, there is only one solution: mano y mano gladiator fighting in the nearby Air WestJet Canada Centre (brought to you by Johnson & Johnson’s baby oil). Winners get promotions and a rung or two up the corporate ladder; losers get transferred to PUGFACE’s private label division, from where they must claw their way back to the front office.

-Jeff Spriet, founder, Chokolat

Big Cold Beer Presents: Hockey Night in Cancun

To bolster slumping beer sales and get TV ratings for hockey off life support in America, the Stanley Cup Finals are presented in Cancun, Mexico. A liquid nitrogen ice rink on the beach is home to the action. Big Cold Beer’s theme for the two-week spectacle is ‘Everything about hockey is hot, except the beer.’

Players wear nothing but skates, jock straps and suntan oil, allowing them to cope with the extreme temperatures while attracting the affluent American Cougar market. To give Big Cold Beer optimum exposure and make the game more interesting, players are only allowed to hydrate themselves with beer. Drunk, buff men stumbling around on ice extend TV appeal to that hard-to-find and increasingly desensitized teen demographic. And finally, HNIC stalwarts MacLean and Cherry are replaced by Paris Hilton and Nick Lachey – because Don and Ron just aren’t hot enough.

-Craig Redmond, former VP/CD, Grey Vancouver

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