Today we’re talking to Kaaren Whitney-Vernon and Jay Bennett (CEO and Senior Vice President of shift2) about their smash YouTube series Carmilla, and how they harnessed the power of niche to build a devoted audience. We also talk about creating content that audiences value and appreciate, why it’s important to be a maverick in the entertainment space, and how to introduce brand messaging in ways that are fun, engaging and completely authentic.

Topics include:

  • How to build a loyal fandom and tremendous ROI
  • Branded content vs. branded entertainment
  • Why (and how) all brands can leverage social messaging
  • How to reach (and engage with) Millennials
  • Why entertainment transcends advertising (and what that means for ROI)

Kaaren Whitney-Vernon serves as CEO of Millennial-focused branded entertainment agency shift2. A co-venture with leading production company Shaftesbury, shift2 works with brands to harness the power of video content on YouTube. shift2’s branded entertainment projects include three seasons of the hit YouTube series Carmilla, funded by U By Kotex®; the mysterious V Morgan Is Dead, brought to life by RBC; and both seasons of the fashion-focused series MsLabelled, produced in partnership with Shaw Media and Schick® Quattro for Women® (season 1), and in partnership with Tetley and Matua (season 2), which have generated 22 million views and counting on shift2′s popular KindaTV YouTube channel for strong, empowered women aged 13 – 30.

As Senior Vice President, Creative and Innovation, Jay Bennett is responsible for the creative direction and innovation of the company, focusing on technology and multi-screen content including original digital and feature film projects and branded entertainment, working closely with shift2 Inc. He also oversees Shaftesbury’s award-winning digital studio, Smokebomb Entertainment, in addition to marketing, research, audience engagement and merchandising and licensing strategies across all divisions. Jay is an Emmy® award-winning leader in the global digital landscape whose unique creative vision has been appearing on screens of all sizes for almost a decade. He has created and produced numerous productions and applications, with a distinct focus on blending storytelling with innovative technologies and social strategies, bringing a 360-degree approach to mainstream audience engagement.

Learn more about Kaaren Whitney-Vernon:

Learn more about Jay Bennett:



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