WarnerMedia Launches House of Max Studio to Produce Ads

WarnerMedia’s ad sales division is launching House of Max in Q4 this year to develop commercials that incorporate characters and concepts from its various HBO Max series. WarnerMedia senior VP of entertainment marketing solutions Maureen Polo said the studio’s “wide array of programs” will “allow brands to make more thoughtful and meaningful connections” with consumers, adding “we can produce content that doesn’t feel like advertising.” Intellectual property will be available from programs including “Hacks,” “The Flight Attendant,” and “Gossip Girl.”

Variety reports that, “shows crafted mainly for the HBO pay-cable service do not seem to be included in any offering at present … [but] House of Max will also work to create work that could run on WarnerMedia’s entertainment-focused TV networks, as well as social-media outlets.”

After debuting an ad-supported tier of HBO Max in June, Polo said “ads created by her team have already run there for clients hailing from the auto, insurance, and fast-food sectors.” Variety notes that, “as traditional TV ratings decline, more advertisers are trying to make smarter use of streaming … [which] give advertisers the chance to speak to customers in more direct fashion.”

In March, WarnerMedia reported it had “$80 million in commitments for the ad-supported version of HBO Max, which runs just four minutes of ads per hour and runs commercials in ‘pre roll’ and ‘mid roll’ slots.” According to sources, “WarnerMedia gave early consideration to agencies that made early investments in the streaming venue … helping to boost demand for its inventory.”

Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Netflix don’t run traditional ads, and Polo noted that, in this environment, audiences “want brands to create shows.” “We have to help brands be creative, add content and experiences that extends our shows and our stories,” she said.

HBO tried this out in 2019, when “WarnerMedia took part in a Super Bowl ad for Bud Light that utilized characters and themes from the popular series ‘Game of Thrones’ … and Sarah Jessica Parker revived her Carrie Bradshaw character that same year for a Super Bowl spot for Stella Artois that also utilized Jeff Bridges’ ‘The Dude’ from the movie ‘The Big Lebowski’.”

Deadline reports that, when HBO Max With Ads was launched, it “featured 35 initial advertisers … [and] competes with a number of ‘ad-lite’ subscription services in the market.” Deadline notes that “other streaming outlets and media companies have rolled out brand studios as they manage through a reordering of the TV landscape … [and that] brand studios also afford flexibility in terms of what form brand messages take.”

The main goal, said WarnerMedia is to “create an effective environment that aligns with marketers’ goals and puts the viewer at the heart of the streaming experience.” In its quarterly earnings report for the period ending in June, parent company AT&T said that HBO and HBO Max combined had 47 million subscribers.

Related:
WarnerMedia Report: ‘Intentionality’ Key to Content and Ads, ETCentric, 8/3/21