Attention, a top social media agency, recently became a part of the zeitgeist of TV when they were featured in an episode of NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, now in its eighteenth season. The unusual partnership between the company whose clients include American Express, BMW and Cinnabon, came about from close relationships with location scouts.
The fact that a social media agency was recruited to be included in the plot of a major TV show is not only an ode to the company’s success but the social media industry as a whole. While Attention considered whether joining the episode was a good idea, they ultimately decided it was a good move and not to take themselves too seriously. Found Remote interviewed the agency’s President Tom Buontempo about their experience with SVU.
You can watch the episode here (Attention is featured around 34 minutes into the episode):
Found Remote: How did the relationship with SVU come about?
Tom Buontempo: We’ve been close with the location scouts who have come out in the past and wanted to keep us in their rolodex should the right script surface. When this episode was being developed, the team reached back out, reviewed four full floors of our building and landed on our space given the look and associated vibe. When the director came by to give it the green light, he asked if, in addition to using the space, they could rename the fictional company in the episode (originally Vision Inc) ATTENTION and use our new agency branding.
FR: Was Attention worried about being portrayed in a fictional show about tough issues?
TB: We were definitely a bit worried at first, knowing the nature of the show and typical plot lines. The director assured me the suspect wasn’t actually the killer but I wanted to see the script for myself and was surprisingly granted access. At the end of the day, I think we need to make sure we don’t take ourselves too seriously. This was an incredible opportunity to be woven into popular culture and put the agency brand in the global spotlight. To my knowledge, it’s rare for a show of this type to actually adopt a real company’s name and logo, especially when they’re in similar industries. Although they modified the agency description and actual address, we were still featured prominently in the script and four distinct scenes.
FR: How much control did you have over the storyline
TB: Per the above, there was little control over the actual storyline but there were some slight revisions made in real-time on-set based on the location dynamics.
FR: Was the filming disruptive at all?
TB: The SVU team were real pros. Shooting, load-in and load-out happened Friday, Saturday and Monday in early January. Most of the crew set up shop up on our sixth floor in a much more open collaboration space and the cast took over an adjacent conference room. Planning happened while we were still working in the office. The director was walking around eyeing different shots and perspectives which excited the team as they started to realize it was really happening. They also asked us to leave a lot of the artifacts that bring out the agency personality like a parrot on one of our art director’s computer screen and an orange wig that belonged to someone on the business leadership team.
We had our team take their laptops home on Friday night. The lion’s share of the shooting happened on a Saturday and then Monday morning through Monday afternoon. We were pretty flexible on Monday, allowing our teams to either work from home or relocate to hoteling space on a separate floor. Many opted to come in so they can sneak a peek at the filming, especially since Mariska and Ice T were in the offices for their scenes on Monday. Huge props to our office services team too for making the experience as painless as possible.
FR: What was the reaction by the company?
TB: The entire agency was excited about the opportunity, especially considering many were huge fans of the show and we just recently evolved our entire agency branding. We’re looking to tack a viewing party onto our next all-agency regroup. Since the episode aired at 9pm, we wanted to be respectful of employees’ lives outside of work.
FR: Any reaction from the episode?
TB: We’ve received tremendous reaction from clients, prospects and industry peers. What’s been most amazing has been the reaction from clients who weren’t expecting to see us and were just watching as fans. Many recognized our office, name and logo (even the location called out in that famous Law & Order font and associated chime).
FR: Anything else?
TB: We considered broader marketing efforts associated with the launch but nothing felt authentic or appropriate. In the end, we just let the episode play out and celebrated internally. SVU provided us with some pics from the shoot but asked us to post nothing until the episode aired.