Anyone with a passing knowledge of TV history knows that branded series are not a phenomena new to the digital content space. Advertiser-sponsored, ad agency-produced shows were common in the 1950s (e.g., TV’s first blockbuster hit “The Texaco Star Theatre,” starring Milton Berle). But a brand never went so far as to open a studio as PepsiCo has with its just-announced new facility for its in-house development arm, Creators League, which is launching with partnerships with AOL and hip hop artist Tip “T.I.” Harris.
Located in the heart of New York City’s Soho district, the 4,000-square-foot studio and multi-use space includes a recording studio, a screening room, editing and production facilities, shared workspace, and entertainment and lounge areas which can be used for events, meetings and productions.
The Creators League content studio will be used to produce branded content, brand-inspired long and short=form scripted series and films, reality and competition shows, music recordings, and OTT and digital content for distribution across platforms.
“Our brands stand for far more than just cola, chips or oatmeal — they’re cultural juggernauts with immense equity that inspires and represent pop culture, fun, nourishment and sports,” said Kristin Patrick, SVP of PepsiCo global brand development, in a statement. “When viewed through that lens, we realized there is so much opportunity for us to take that as inspiration and license to create compelling stories. Our new content studio will allow us to produce and invest in agile ways to bring these stories to life.”
Creators League is teaming with AOL’s Partner Studios to develop and produce a slate of both branded and original content focusing on music, pop culture, health and wellness for distribution on AOL platforms and related Microsoft properties, as well as PepsiCo’s owned channels. As part of the deal, the two parties will also work together to distribute independently-produced content.
Creators League has also partnered with Oscar-nominated producer Robbie Brenner (“Dallas Buyer’s Club”), president of film for talent management/production company The Firm, and Tip “T.I.” Harris on an urban coming-of-age music feature starring Harris, who will also serve as producer and music supervisor through his Grand Hustle Films. The Firm’s CEO Jeff Kwatinetz and Harris’ film partner Brian Sher will also produce.
The Creators League’s content studio was designed by John Storyk of Walters Storyk Design Group (WSDG), whose first commission was to design Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village for Jimi Hendrix back in 1970. In the years since, Storyk has led the design and construction of over 3,500 audio and video production facilities, recording studios, radio stations, theaters and sports and entertainment facilities, as well as private studios for Jay-Z, Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys and Whitney Houston.