FIVE shows how great entertainment builds a brand and makes a difference: Will it take home a Lion in the inaugural Branded Content & Entertainment Category?

On June 13, JWT’s project FIVE won the Gold Pencil at the One Show Entertainment in the category of Television / Specials or One-Time Screenings.

FIVE is a feature film that tells the stories of women and their experience in dealing with breast cancer through five emotional phases associated with the disease:  Diagnosis, Acceptance, Treatment, Support, and Living.  The five-act film featured an all-star team, with likes of Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Alicia Keys, Patricia Clarkson, Rosario Dawson, Tony Shalhoub, and Bob Newhart.  Marta Kauffman, who created “Friends”, was the executive producer who guided the story.

The film was inspired and based upon JWT Puerto Rico’s acclaimed project for Susan G. Komen Foundation by the same title that chronicled the same experiences of women through music and testimonials.  VP Regional Creative Director Jaime Rosado led that effort.

JWT’s journey to get the film made had its own narrative.  When I joined JWT in 2009, Harvey Marco, now CCO of Team Mazda, shared with me the case study from Puerto Rico, and challenged me to develop the idea into new entertainment formats.  I developed a few different film and music ideas – and we agreed we could make five short films, similar to the iconic BMW Films.  We then decided to think bigger.  What if those short films were acts within a five-act feature film, for TV, and directed by top Hollywood women, and financed by a TV network?

We pitched agents at Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, and they immediately signed on to help us package the film.   We hoped for HBO, or a broadcast network like ABC.  CAA advised that the most likely network to invest in the project was Lifetime, with their long history of breast cancer support.

After more revisions to the idea, I pitched Jennifer Aniston and Lifetime execs at CAA.  Joining me were Executive Producers attached by CAA– Kevin Chinoy and Francesca Silvestri of Freestyle Productions, and Kristen Hahn who has worked extensively with Aniston.  Jennifer enthusiastically signed on to direct and executive produce, along with Lifetime, and their international co-production partner Sony Television.

That was July 2010.  From there, the usual stops and starts associated with production transpired, as scripts were developed, actors cast, and financing scenarios explored.  Ford and Walgreens also joined as integration and promotional partners, both already partners with Susan G. Komen.  Production commenced in March 2011, and the film aired on October 10, 2011 on Lifetime, following a star-studded premiere in SoHo.  The reviews were tremendous.

The process was quite different from JWT’s process in making advertising, especially when partners invest financially in the idea, and have provide creative resources for our idea to be sold, and made.  As Co-Executive Producer, I collaborated with the team throughout, from beginning to end.  I look forward to making more projects like FIVE, and leveraging JWT’s network of creative ideas to create new entertainment formats.

This week we are in Cannes, and hopeful FIVE will be recognized for the inaugural Branded Content & Entertainment Lion – Best Fictional Program, Series or Film.   It’s the first year for the category, so I am hopeful we can add another first to JWT’s history of accomplishments.  It may not be inventing the grilled cheese sandwich, but it will be just as satisfying.

Branded Content and Entertainment Lions will be announced on Saturday June 23.

Mike Wiese is JWT’s Director of Branded Entertainment.