The branded entertainment firm which helped create NBC’s The Restaurant and Bravo’s Blow Out is being disbanded. New York and Los Angeles headquartered Magna Global Entertainment, part of Interpublic Group of Cos., was headed by Bill Hilary, former president of BBC America and executive vice-president and general manager of Viacom’s Comedy Central. The well-respected programmer Hilary joined in 2006.
The unit was created in 2000 and had many successes, including the Johnson & Johnson sponsored dramas for cable channel TNT and an international format sales business. The unit also worked with AMC to place Jack Daniels whiskey in many episodes of Mad Men. It also oversaw some notable flops, including The Restaurant, often cited as an example of branded entertainment gone wrong. The reality show featured lingering close ups of American Express cards and Coors kegs.
Interpublic’s newly created unit, Mediabrands sits above Magna and the company’s media buying businesses. Mediabrands issued a statement this morning confirming the closure and explaining that the branded entertainment function worked better at the agency level. Interpublic’s main agencies include Universal McCann and Initiative. Talent agency Endeavor Marketing would continue to oversee content creation for brands.
Mr. Hilary was not reachable for comment, though the unit’s promotional Website, complete with a video compilation of its achievements, remains active at www.magnaglobalentertainment.com.