Published July 21, 2009
Volume 17, Number 7

The Licorice Tree Productions Tap Online Promotion Power        

Jonathan White, Joe Madden, and EJ Heiser of The Licorice Tree.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

The Licorice Tree, the production arm of Hacienda-based Goal Line Productions, which operates a state-of-the art studio at 5959 Coronado Lane, observes its fifth anniversary this month. Over the years it has been steadily building its portfolio in commercial production, corporate communications, documentaries, TV specials, and feature films. It has also been venturing out of the traditional broadcast mode, migrating to the new territory of online promotions. 

The Internet as a distribution channel has become a very powerful promotion tool, especially as it liberates commercial production from the standard 15- to -30-second time constraint, observes The Licorice Tree creative director EJ Heiser. “Really creative new forms of commercials without the old limitations can take on a life of their own, catching fire, going viral,” he states. They are also very attractive economically. “You can very easily track how many people look at something on the Internet. Blogging gives you a direct response from the people viewing. This is wonderful information for brand managers, and we’re still at the beginning of this new, cost-effective way for our clients to promote their brands.”

One of The Licorice Tree’s big attractions is its roster of directors. “A production company is all about the creative services it provides, and directors are the bread and butter,” Heiser continues. Among the luminaries in its arsenal is Mark Teitelman, known in the industry as T-Man, a “marvelously skilled” veteran of Monday Night Football, where he directed the dynamic opening each week. Working with The Licorice Tree,  in February Teitelman directed an online promotion for Electronic Arts’ Red Alert video game. The promo was a scene-by-scene re-creation of the “Obama Girl” music video so popular on You-Tube, but instead of Obama, the presidential figure is a fictitious character from the video game,    played by J.K. Simmons. “It was a clever way to garner interest, and Teitelman knocked it out of the park,” Heiser comments. 

Many of the commercials and productions that The Licorice Tree produces are filmed in-house, but not all. In May the company wrapped a two-week shoot in Georgia filming a documentary for Milk-Bone. The story centers on a young woman with MS who, in need of a helping dog, ultimately started a Canine Assistant program, with Milk-Bone a chief underwriter. A project late last year involved traveling to Buenos Aires to film a commercial for Clorox’s Glad brand. “Sometimes with the financial incentives offered abroad,” says Heiser, “it can be more cost-effective to shoot there, even given travel costs.”

The Coronado Lane facility was built in 1995 as a private studio to serve the production needs of the Emmy-winning broadcaster, John Madden. Joe Madden, the son of the NFL Hall of Fame Coach, took over as Goal Line president in its early days. He and Heiser started The Licorice Tree in 2004 to spotlight their production capabilities. The new company’s unusual name pays tribute to Heiser’s father-in-law, who formulated the Red Vines candy for the American Licorice Company.

For more information, contact Anton Laines at (925) 474-1000. 


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