BRITE Ideas Begin

I’m here at the BRITE conference on branding, innovation, and technology, and it’s living up to its promise so far.

Today’s event is the CMO Summit, a more intimate, more conversational forum for top marketers to get together, share their experiences, and learn from each other – all that good stuff (the salmon in a puffy filo wrap was good too).

In an odd twist, much of today’s commentary’s off the record unless otherwise noted so CMOs can speak freely here.

One who I’ll gather is on the record is Pamela Kaufman, Chief Marketing Officer at Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group with her keynote “Building Brands in a New Media Environment.”

Nick is an incredible brand. Spongebob Squarepants is in 175 countries. While Dora the Explorer teaches Spanish here, she teaches English around the world. Their brand extensions are endless these days, expanding into indoor theme parks and kid-friendly hotels. They’re very proactive at working with their advertisers to help them better market their products not just on Nick but anywhere. For instance, a music video Nick developed for Dreamworks’ Bee Movie wound up being used in various ways in commercials on other TV networks.

The most interesting part was the launch of iCarly, a show launched late last year about a couple young teens who produce their own online show and focuses on the three protagonists’ lives, with part of it being about the production of the show which then does air online. The biggest hook: kids contribute videos of themselves doing something cool, and those online videos can make it on to the actual TV show. They’ve had over 60,000 videos so far, plus well over 100,000 iTunes downloads of the show’s theme song.

This is a much more exciting form of convergence than watching TV on the PC or watching YouTube on the TV. This is about incorporating content that works really well online into a storytelling format that works really well on TV and keeping both as their own experiences that work together.

An aside: show’s weirdest moment – an unexpected, endless, video-supported plug for the Skate Ranger, “America’s Hero.” Strange, I thought that was John McCain.