Published on August 28th, 2012 | by Tod Whipple5
Branded Entertainment Model – Leap Year S2
If you are a Hulu fan then you probably already watched Season 2 of Leap Year. A scripted show following the founders of startup called C3D set to revolutionze video conferencing with hologram technology. Although the entrepreneurs in Leap Year are fictional the real-life entrepreneurs behind the show are definitely visionary. Executive Producer and actor Wilson Cleveland of CJP Digital Media (Now unboxded owned by Prosek Partners) pulled off a branded entertainment business model for funding the series. The original series programming was completely funded by small business insurance provider Hiscox.
At Hiscox we help small professional services businesses get the right insurance for their needs. We are excited for the second season of Leap Year and hope you’ll enjoy the journey with us.
Sponsorship and branded entertainment is quickly becoming all the rage as quality content creation becomes affordable and alternative distribution methods are hitting critical mass. I was able to get some great Q&A from the creators of Leap Year.
SA: Can you explain the successful and proven business approach that Hiscox took?
Hiscox was looking for a vehicle to gain awareness and affinity for our company in the US market in coordination with the launch of our small business insurance offering, starting in late 2010. We worked with our PR agency, Prosek Partners, to develop Leap Year. The show focuses on the same startup businesses we insure and the branding, and related content we produced, are helping Hiscox raise awareness in the US small business community. The 2nd season was an opportunity to build on the momentum of the 1st season and we integrated celebrity cameos as well as startup incubator TechStars to help reach new audiences.
SA: How much did Hiscox sponsor the second season for? How many episodes? What was the total budget?
Leap Year was created and produced exclusively for Hiscox. We worked with the agency and the production company on the scripts and characters to create something that would resonate with small businesses and match our brand. The first season had 10 episodes of 8 – 10 minutes each and the 2nd season had 10 episodes of about 20 minutes each. The total investment was less than $500,000 for the production and distribution of the entire 2nd season, including branded slates within the episodes and short Hiscox advertisements accompanying each episode view.
SA: How was the series able to get distributed through Hulu? Was it a direct to Hulu model or an intermediary that had distribution rights?
We work with Attention Span Media which has an existing content partnership with Hulu.
SA: Does Hulu distribute the series for free in exchange for keeping all the advertising revenue from television spots?
Leap Year is owned and sponsored by Hiscox and therefore falls into Hulu’s branded entertainment bucket. As you might expect, Hulu rightly requires a certain level of paid media to accompany brand-sponsored series in order for them to distribute on their network. This allowed us to more closely-associate Hiscox with Leap Year.
SA: Does Hiscox participate in the revenue model of the show or was the sponsorship exposure an advertising expense for the company?
Hiscox funds the production and marketing for Leap Year as a marketing/awareness-building vehicle for the company. Sponsorship exposure is a marketing expense.
SA: How did Hiscox come across the content for Leap Year and why was it so compelling to them?
We created Leap Year exclusively for Hiscox so they’ve been involved since the concept phase. They were seeking new, innovative ways to market their Online Direct specialty business insurance for small businesses. In order to build credibility for a new product offering in an already saturated small business marketing environment, Hiscox needed to demonstrate its understanding of the unique challenges every entrepreneur faces when starting a business. So we created a show about first-time entrepreneurs and wove both typical and atypical challenges into the narrative.
SA: Anything else you can add that would be of value to our audience?
– Nearly 70% of Leap Year’s 50k+ social media followers are self-identified entrepreneurs.
– The first 2 seasons have generated over 6 million views across platforms and maintain a view through rate of approximately 65%
– Leap Year has been heralded as a pioneer in branded entertainment. The show itself features no mention of its sponsor. Instead, Hiscox places its branding and marketing messages around its content as opposed