TBA Creates Branded Entertainment Unit

Sales promotion and events marketing company TBA Global is starting a new division dedicated solely to branded entertainment, TBA DEEP.

Leading the new group will be EVP Brian Murphy, who was founder and CEO of branded content firm Fearless Entertainment before it was acquired by TBA in 2007. The unit will function as a part of TBA Global for now, said Murphy, though it could eventually be spun off as a separate agency.

TBA DEEP is positioning itself as more than a branded entertainment shop. The name stands for digital, entertainment, engagement and programming, which Murphy said represents the full range of communications activities the unit intends to offer its clients. “We will work with brands to help them spread the conversation,” said Murphy. “We will provide strategic direction on how content should be distributed in the marketplace. We intend to be a full-service [company.]”

The launch of the unit comes on the heels of several successful branded entertainment initiatives by TBA, including McDonald’s Live, a series of concerts that helped connect the fast food retailer to youth culture and the music industry. That effort earned TBA an EX award for Best Multi-Venue Event in the consumer category this year.

“With all the changes going on in the media marketplace, content has become democratized, but it’s also become more valuable,” said Murphy. “PQ Media says branded entertainment is a $25 billion business today, and will hit $60 billion by 2012. That’s why we’re launching this as a separate unit.’

Murphy also pointed out branded entertainment is a natural extension for TBA because the business is rooted in the entertainment industry. Co-chairman Irving Azoff also heads Frontline Management, which represents artists such as The Eagles and Christina Aguilera.

The unit will launch with about a dozen dedicated staff. Launched in 1994, TBA Global is an independently-owned firm.

Before launching Fearless, Murphy spent 10 years at Time Warner working on various branded entertainment initiatives. He was head of the unit that created the series Rockfest for the Hard Rock Cafe, which also spawned the largest single-day ticketed rock event in U.S. history, and Music in High Places, which brought bands to exotic locations worldwide and broadcast concerts. Partners on that effort included Radio Shack, RCAS and MSN.

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