Warby Parker and The Black List seek the next great screenwriters

What kind of content can a brand get for $60,000? A single Instagram post from an influencer with over 1 million followers can cost at least $10,000. A single third-page ad in Squire, according to its rate card, costs $71,805.

“Culture” might be the hottest buzzword in marketing and advertising in recent years, with a lot of talk about creating culture, embedding culture, leveraging culture . . . . In this spirit, a new partnership between the optician Warby Parker and The black list, a screenwriting platform known for its annual ranking of the best unproduced screenplays, announces the Writer’s Vision Grant, which will award $20,000 each to a film, television and theater writer to pursue the project of their choice. The concept pushes the idea that branded content can take many forms and doesn’t have to cost as much as a Super Bowl ad, a print magazine ad, or even a few popular Instagram posts.

Blacklist CEO Franklin Leonard says the two companies share many values. and Warby Parker has always had a connection with writers in one way or another, from his Kerouac-inspired name to the sale of books in his retail stores. “What’s interesting,” says Leonard, “is looking at Warby as a case study here: They’re going to spend $60,000 to distribute in $20,000 increments to three writers. What else could they realistically do with that $60,000 to communicate what they stand for as a company to the world and to various sub-communities within their target audience? »

In a statement to fast business, Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal said his organization “strengthens the screenwriter’s role in the film community and provides exposure to undiscovered scripts and writers,” citing his ongoing commitment to supporting writers across the board. fields. “Going further, this grant will directly benefit writers, providing them with funding to help them develop their own projects,” Blumenthal said.

How it will work: Anyone with a script currently on The Black List platform can join for free. At the end of the entry period, members will review all data associated with the scripts and show Warby Parker the 10 or 15 they deem to be the strongest, from which to choose the winners. There are no real content settings, and authors will retain ownership of their work. “[Warby Parker] I wanted to see fantastic, original ideas, and I just wanted to have light railings, so the writers and the work would be in tune with their business,” says Megan Halpern, vice president of programs, partnerships and production of The Black List. “It would be pretty off-brand to get an insanely brutal slasher horror movie out of this program! It’s less about guiding the work and more about something that suits them.

This isn’t the first time the two companies have worked together, with Warby Parker hosting a series of readings with The Black List before the pandemic hit. The Blacklist has also worked with other brands, such as Google and Hornitos, on similar fundraising competitions. Leonard says they try to keep any funding partnership above $10,000 to make it worth any writer’s time; and that if a brand wants to own it, it must pay writers the Writers Guild of America minimum, whether the selected writers are WGA members or not.

As a marketing investment, this is a basic approach to branded content. “Let’s say one of these three writers, in a decade, will become Liz Meriwether, Lupita Nyong’o or Jeremy O. Harris?” said Leonardo. “They’re going to remember that early in their careers one of the reasons they believed in themselves – and were ambitious – was ‘because Warby Parker wrote me a check’.”