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Hollywood Players in Mobile Marriage

NEW YORK The latest Hollywood marriage is between two branded entertainment companies seeking to develop sponsored programs for mobile consumers worldwide.

Meteor Worldwide is launching a mobile content delivery company and a programming partnership with reality producer Reveille. Called Pliq (a name chosen in a competition), the new service will launch next year, according to Meteor managing partners Dieter Abt and Ben Blanco. Sanjay Pothen has been named Pliq CEO.

Reveille's maiden foray into mobile distribution will allow it to reach "audiences around the world," said Reveille CEO Ben Silverman, who will serve on Pliq's board. In addition to repurposing shows like The Restaurant, $25 Million Hoax, Meet Mr. Mom, The Club, House Wars and Adrenaline X, Reveille will create original branded content for the wireless distributor.

Meteor's in-house production unit, White Flower, will help Reveille on "development and production of mobisodes," said Abt. Currently the White Flower slate has 10 scripted small-screen series "incorporating user-generated content and text messages," added Blanco.

The ad model for Pliq programming will include both 15-second interstitials (before, during or after editorial content) and brand-sponsored or brand-integrated series, explained Blanco. Meteor, which this summer inked a deal with Havas branded-content shop B6, has been exploring mobile projects with agency clients like Nike and Dannon.

Volkswagen, Meteor's original client, is also in discussions about mobile properties.

Other Pliq tasks include matching brands with Hollywood properties?especially those of Meteor partner Universal Studios?and disseminating the brand-integrated content via marketing campaigns and White Flower's "Pliq Flick" series.

Domestic advertising on mobile devices (not including branded or sponsored content) amounted to $45 million last year and is expected to reach $1.3 billion by 2011, per Ovum. Yet the Boston researcher's svp of U.S. consumer practice, Mary Ann O'Loughlin, cautioned that "it's very complex to understand what the [media] ecosystem will look like ... and it's still very, very early to tell."

"Forward-thinking" companies will include mobile in their 2007 media plans," though allocating only 1-2 percent of their budgets, O'Loughlin said.

It's not a stretch that branded content will take off on tiny screens, argued O'Loughlin. Noting that the market is "moving to an advertiser-funded model" where content is subsidized, she said branded series "made specifically for mobile consumption are compelling applications" where the use of advertising is "subtle."

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