Beyond slams ‘arrogant’ Endemol in branding dispute

Beyond+Endemol-BeyondProducer and distributor Beyond has slammed Endemol for branding its new international division ‘Endemol Beyond’, accusing the company of being ‘arrogant’ and creating confusion in the market.

Beyond CEO Mikael Borglund told TBI that Endemol did not approach it about the branding of its digital unit, and that Beyond was “blindsided”, with no knowledge of the Endemol Beyond international launch until the official announcement.

Endemol is one of the world’s largest producer and distributors and could become even bigger as part of a merged group comprising it, Shine and Core Media. Last November it announced it a new global venture to create a network of connected digital channels, backed by an initial US$40 million investment, under the Endemol Beyond banner.

Endemol launched the Endemol Beyond brand in Germany in 2012 and other media companies also use ‘Beyond’ as a moniker, for example GroupM-owned branded content division ‘MediaCom Beyond Advertising’. However, Borglund said Beyond has never had a problem with another entertainment firm using the brand in the way that Endemol has.

“We’ve traded as Beyond Productions and Beyond Distribution since 1984 and never had an issue with anyone using that name,” he said. “We understand ‘beyond’ is a generic term, but in the entertainment industry it is synonymous with what Beyond does.”

The Beyond boss said the Australia-listed company was immediately contacted by clients who thought it had gone into business with privately-held Endemol. “It has caused a lot of confusion in the marketplace,” he said. “It’s disrespectful; we wouldn’t set up ‘Beyond Fox’ or ‘Beyond Shine’. We are upset that they have been arrogant enough to disregard a brand we have built up over years.”

Borglund added that the creation of the international Endemol digital unit would make it difficult for Beyond to launch a dedicated digital unit of its own, using its own brand.

Endemol said it was aware of Beyond’s concerns over the branding and keen to resolve the disagreement. Asked about Beyond’s issues with the digital division, the company issued a statement to TBI, which read: “We have been going to considerable lengths to reach an amicable agreement with Beyond. We remain optimistic that through reasonable negotiation we can soon achieve a resolution that suits both parties.”

Endemol would not elaborate on whether any amicable agreement could potentially involve it amending the branding of its digital division.

Beyond said it has taken legal advice, notably with reference to use of the brand in Australia, but it unlikely to pursue that route. “There have been various [legal] discussions in some jurisdictions, but the end result is we don’t want to spend millions running a legal case,” said Borglund.