GEM polishes youth format sponsorships

GMG Endemol, one of the U.K.'s largest entertainment producers and owner of indie prodcos Bazal and Initial, is gearing up several new formats for a big push into the teen and young adult market....
January 1, 2000

GMG Endemol, one of the U.K.’s largest entertainment producers and owner of indie prodcos Bazal and Initial, is gearing up several new formats for a big push into the teen and young adult market.

‘We’ve decided to concentrate on the older end of the [youth] market because teens typically have money to spend and advertisers want to target them,’ says Peter van den Bussche, head of GMG’s program distribution arm GEM. ‘In our opinion, fashion, music and sport are the three core areas that touch the lives of teens everywhere.’

Along with standards such as Ready, Steady Cook and Changing Rooms, GEM’s most successful format to date is The Pepsi Chart Show, a half-hour weekly music show that has been licensed to 16 territories, including Australia, Russia, Thailand, Scandinavia, the Middle East and the U.K. (where it airs on Channel 5).

The production is funded by Pepsi and makes up one of the cola company’s key marketing platforms internationally. The Pepsi end of the relationship is managed by a marketing consultancy called Music Innovations.

Given the economics of production in most TV markets, van den Bussche expects this partnering of production and marketing companies to become critical in greenlighting shows.

Typically, clients foot the cost of production in exchange for sponsorship, in-program product placement or commercial air time from the host broadcaster. ‘All the world’s big advertisers are looking for ways to crack the developing markets of Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe,’ says van den Bussche. ‘We can help them create unique vehicles to make their brands stand out.’

This strategy is being extended into other types of programming. ‘Our sister company Initial made the hit teen music drama S Club 7 in Miami for the BBC,’ says van den Bussche, ‘So now we are looking to create localized comedy/music dramas for different territories.’

In a well-advanced example, GEM has linked up with a leading advertiser, a record company and a new band to develop a teen show for Poland. The advertiser has agreed to match the production budget dollar for dollar. ‘The opportunity was identified by our colleagues at Endemol, and Initial Kids will write the scripts,’ says van den Bussche-who says that there are well developed plans for such series in three other territories.

GEM’s launch into the teen market is underlined by non-music shows such as Dishes, a food dating show that has been made in the U.K. and piloted for Germany. In this show, a young woman chooses a date from three men by matching the taste of their dishes to the cook.

Close Encounters is another new U.K. format. This show places teen heartthrobs back in jobs they did before they became famous to see if any of their fans recognize them.

Van den Bussche expects most GEM formats to attract a teen and young adult crossover audience, and thus designs them for early evening slots-typically 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The company has also experimented with junior versions of adult formats like Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook.

GEM will be involved in casual discussions about most of these formats at NATPE-but is saving its big push for MIP-TV: ‘We have more to learn about this market before we attempt to break into the U.S.,’ admits van den Bussche.

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