IPG Mediabrands Launches Indie Development & Entertainment Company TRAVERSE32
Brett Henenberg (l) and Brendan Gaul at the 2019 NYC premiere of "5B" (photo by Cindy Ord/courtesy of Getty)
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IPG Mediabrands has launched TRAVERSE32, an independent development and entertainment company aimed at connecting film and television audiences with highly influential brands and creators. TRAVERSE32 co-founder Brendan Gaul, Mediabrands’ recently appointed first-ever global chief content officer, will simultaneously serve as its global president.

The new global entity will focus on the development, production and distribution of entertainment vehicles, enabling brands to utilize the art and power of storytelling in unprecedented ways. Flipping the script on traditionally “branded” media, TRAVERSE32 will make it possible for companies to create, develop, and co-produce relevant mainstream film and television content akin to Mediabrands’ UM Studios’ well-received new project, Dear Santa, distributed by IFC, which was just released in select theaters nationwide and is available on Video on Demand.     

“As audience loyalty moves away from traditional media networks in favor of individual high-quality content, we’re launching TRAVERSE32 to help creators and brands collaborate directly,” said Gaul. “Our goal is to open the door for brands to participate in the monetization of what they create, while also giving them meaningful opportunities to interact with consumer audiences as they never have before.  Through TRAVERSE32, we look forward to successfully reinventing the entertainment model by bridging the gap between media and storytelling in new and innovative ways.”

Gaul will be responsible for creative development, acquisitions, and distribution of original narrative and unscripted projects for the company. He will be joined by longtime producing partner Brett Henenberg who also serves as co-founder and global head of production for TRAVERSE32. Upcoming projects from TRAVERSE32 include a narrative feature film, multiple documentaries and scripted/non-scripted TV formats.

The formation of TRAVERSE32, which comes on the heels of the recent unveiling of Mediabrands Content Studio (MBCS), is the next logical step for Gaul following a series of successful production and acquisition deals under his previous leadership as chief content officer at UM Studios. In addition to Dear Santa, other notable projects include the acclaimed documentary, 5B, the first brand-funded film to ever be accepted at the Cannes International Film Festival (distributed by RYOT/Verizon), and the documentary OSO: History of an Icon, which premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival and is now available on Amazon Prime Video.

Dear Santa, a heartwarming documentary directed by Dana Nachman (Pick of the Litter, Batkid Begins) and produced by Chelsea Matter, Gaul, Christopher Karpenko and Nachman, which has a 90% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes, shines a light on the 100-year-old “Operation Santa” Program of the United States Postal Service (USPS).  Each year, hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa arrive at post offices around the country. Through Operation Santa, the USPS makes it possible for the public to safely adopt these letters and make children’s dreams come true. The film invites audiences along for the magic of this massive endeavor. Traveling the country, much like Santa does on Christmas Eve, the film focuses on select “Operation Santa” Centers; some in metropolitan areas like the massive operation in New York City and others in small towns where the post office is the heart of the community.

“There has never been more hunger for great content in the world. The launch of TRAVERSE32 comes at the perfect time when brands, creators and film distributors are looking to forge whole new working relationships to meet this demand,” said Daryl Lee, global CEO, Mediabrands. “Brendan and Brett have been pioneers in the original content development space and have the expertise to create the most compelling and commercially successful stories for brands.” 

Dear Santa, a documentary created to share the giving spirit created through the USPS Operation Santa program, has resulted in a brand connection that traditional advertising  and media struggles to deliver,” said Christopher Karpenko, executive director of brand marketing for the USPS. “Brendan and Brett are experts in this space and through their leadership we created a film that has been critically well-received, emotionally connects with audiences, and reinforces the USPS goal mission of binding the nation.” 


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