Back when Lost was in its pre-production, pre-phenomenon days, a number of companies were approached about a product placement opportunity: a chocolate bar was needed for a fleeting cameo early in the series one pilot, and a staring role in a series two episode.
Given the off-the-wall programme concept, the fact that each series is 25 episodes long, and the high failure rate of new TV shows, it's probably not surprising that everyone declined this kind offer. As a result, a brand had to do invented for the show (Apollo), and the rest (as they say) is history.
Fast forward, and now Touchstone are looking to licence Apollo, undoubtedly to the same companies who rejected Lost in the first place.
Which got me thinking. Does this represent a new business opportunity for media owners and content providers? In the children's arena at least, they are already very good at character licensing. But what about becoming bona fide brand owners?
Given the fragmentation of media, and the declining effectiveness of conventional comms models, it could make a lot of sense: they would be in a better position than most to make brands work.
And it wouldn't even be that unusual. There are many successful businesses out there who own/manage brands, without making products (Nike for example), so there's no reason it shouldn't work...even if the new brand is quickly licensed or sold on.
After all, if content is king, why place other people's brands when you could place your own?