To ‘Queer Eye’ creators, authenticity makes brand integration special

What’s the Story? is a storytelling video series dedicated to learning what truly makes a great story, told through the lens of the world’s talent and practitioners of the craft in entertainment, marketing and beyond.

For a good portion of any industry, the word “authentic” can tend to be bandied about fairly indiscriminately. However, when learning more about Scout Productions, it isn’t simply a word, it’s a way of doing the work that breaks through.

One of Scout Productions’ most well-known projects, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, is wrapped in a most interesting brand integration story — and the company is one of the innovators in the space.

Created 15 years ago by co-founder David Collins — and heading to Netflix in its latest form, shifting from New York City to more conservative locations in the US — the show was in the “wild west” of brand integration early on but strong partnerships and talent, including hiring Tina Elmo, who was the brand integration maven on HBO's Sex and the City, as partnership director in 2005, made a difference.

As time, and audience sophistication progressed, Rob Eric, chief creative officer at Scout Productions points out the importance of their own evolution and that true authenticity. GMC, a brand partner of the show, understood the impact of being true to a story and its characters from the beginning and has “ended up being an absolutely amazing marriage.”

There are other integrations in the show that have been wildly successful and Eric noted that an early integration with Ralph Lauren resulted in a $1,500 pink cashmere jacket to be sold out the next day, further proving the power of, as Collins puts it, “show and brand.”

To Collins, an Academy Award and Emmy-winner, the next step in the evolution of brand integration will be more customized and with a greater premium on creativity in storytelling.

The question of whether or not bands drive story or story is supported by a brand is still a work in progress but a current Scout Productions project puts a cruise ship squarely at the center of the story and became a bridge between story and product.

All in all, though, it comes down to authenticity, something that both believe makes a story most effective and has given them a distinct opportunity to work successfully with brands over the long haul.

What's the Story? is sponsored by Branded Entertainment Network (BEN), the first global network for branded product integration in the entertainment industry, across all media, including the influencer space.

If you would like to pitch someone for “What’s the Story?“, please complete the linked form.

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Doug Zanger

Doug Zanger is the Americas editor for The Drum. He leads the Americas editorial team’s content activity in the growing region. Based in Portland, Oregon, he is committed to sharing the most meaningful stories that benefit the global industry and its people. A Minnesota native, Zanger has covered a wide range of brands, issues and personalities, including Aloe Blacc, Seu Jorge, Wendy Clark, Susan Credle, Dan Wieden, Jeff Goodby and more. Fiercely dedicated to diversity, equality and talent, he has interviewed several women in leadership roles through his Exceptional Women of the World podcast.

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