NBC Universal today announced the formation of its new Digital Studio which has been created to develop and produce brand-centric, quality digital content experiences, distribute them across NBCU’s portfolio of digital properties and find and develop quality digital programming into which client brands can be organically integrated. Omnicom Media Group Digital (OMG Digital) has signed on as the first strategic partner. The first productions from the new unit are "Gemini Division," premiering this summer, and "Woke Up Dead." Additionally, new team members Suhaila Suhimi and Nichol DeGruccio have joined the ranks, led by Cameron Death, Vice President, NBC Universal Digital Studio. The announcements were made by Ben Silverman, Co-Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios and Vivi Zigler, Executive Vice President, NBC Digital Entertainment and New Media, to whom Death reports.
NBC Universal Digital Studio’s flagship strategic partnership with OMG Digital, in cooperation with sister Omnicom companies Davie Brown Entertainment and OMG Entertainment and Sports, is a first-of-its-kind relationship to give brands a seat at the table during the development phase of original digital entertainment. NBC Universal Digital Studio’s partnership with OMG Digital creates a new paradigm for branded entertainment in the industry by ensuring content is created around an advertiser’s marketing plan.
Matt Spiegel, CEO, OMG Digital, said, "This is the first time that programming with the distribution potential of NBC Universal will be centered from the start around advertisers. When we were presented the opportunity of a strategic alliance with NBC Universal Digital Studio, it was immediately apparent to all that combining the strength of NBC Universal’s storytelling and the breadth of their distribution network with our insights and understanding of brands offered a unique way of giving brands a seat at the table with writers and producers in developing episodic programming that ties directly to brand needs."
The first of the new unit’s productions, "Gemini Division," stars Rosario Dawson and Justin Hartley. Set five minutes in the future, the live action and animated science-fiction series follows a New York City homicide detective, Anna Diaz, as she investigates the murder of her fiancé and uncovers an underworld of genetically fabricated life-forms that bring into question the legitimacy of her own relationships and being. Intel, Microsoft, UPS and Acura TSX are the first brands to be involved with the development of the series.
The second production, "Woke Up Dead," is currently in pre-production. The series explores the unexpectedly macabre transformation of run-of-the-mill college student Drex Greene, examining both the physical and emotional struggles of his anything-but-ordinary circumstances. Yesterday his biggest worries were finals and his budding romance with long time pal, Cassie. Today he faces inexplicable zombie-like tendencies, like being submerged under water without having to come up for air.
The NBC Universal Digital Studio senior staff consists of Suhaila Suhimi who joins as Director of Brand Strategy and Nichol DeGruccio, Executive Producer, Digital Production. Suhimi was previously East Coast Digital Director of OMD where she managed the New York office and provided leadership on digital media strategies for brands such as Frito-lay, ABSOLUT, FedEx, Hertz and Hershey’s. DeGruccio has been in digital positions within NBC Universal for the past seven years and most recently served as Executive Producer for original, online video series, which aired on various internal and external platforms, including iVillage.com, BravoTV.com, USANetwork.com, MSN.com and ONNetworks.com, among others.