A&E execs may have come up with a novel solution to the knotty problem of how to open up programming effectively to brand integration.
With product placement taking an ever-bigger role on TV shows, networks have struggled to make creative types work smoothly with advertising interests. A&E has simply inserted a marketing professional in the programming department and tasked her with the job. The network recently lured Elaine Frontain Bryant from Magna Global Entertainment and created a new title for her: Director, Non-fiction and Alternative Programming.
Not that Frontain Bryant doesn’t have production experience. At Magna, she served as VP, creative development and production, overseeing creation and production of sponsor-bankrolled original programming. She was an executive producer on TNT’s Emmy-nominated movie The Wool Cap and CBS’ Saving Milly. She also helped produce the first two seasons of Bravo’s Blow Out. Before joining Magna, she directed and produced two seasons of The N’s reality show Girls v. Boys and produced episodes for the network’s Peabody-winning A Walk in Your Shoes. Frontain Bryant also produced the 1998 indie flick The Farmhouse with Blythe Danner.
Her hiring was spearheaded by A&E’s SVP of Nonfiction and Alternative Programming Nancy Dubuc, who says she had grown weary of trying to make the awkward fit between programmers and marketers work. "A lot of it’s just knowing what people are talking about," Dubuc says. "We go to those meetings and they talk all in brand-integration terms, and we kind of look at each other like, ‘Oh, God, what’s this mean?’ She’s well versed and has a great vocabulary in both disciplines."
Now she can put that vocab to work selling Criss Angel Mindfreak.