US advertisers combine TV and online efforts

22 March 2010

NEW YORK: An increasing number of advertisers in the US are employing traditional media such as television as a tool to promote their online activities.

ESPN will launch The Next Round Served Up by Jim Beam, a new web series, in April, featuring exclusive interviews with actors, athletes and comedians.

It will be made available in full on the net, as well as being backed by shorts clips in breaks during the TV late-night airing of SportsCenter.

More broadly, this effort will be supported by ESPN's radio station and magazine, and through in-store communications, in an attempt to engage its target demographic of male consumers.

"This is primarily driven as a web series, using as a lever, and each piece of the programme plays a different role, all the way down to retail," said Kevin George, chief marketing officer of Beam Global Spirits and Wine.

"Digital is important, because our guys are watching online video a tonne, and ad recall on digital is great," George continued, adding that "the TV part is nice … [as] it gets you the awareness."

The Principal Financial Group has recently unveiled a new web-based initiative, "America Rebuilds", which provides advice and a variety of videos demonstrating how it can help customers in the downturn.

To drive up awareness of this platform, it has sponsored Building Up America, which is shown on CNN, and discusses some of the success stories that have emerged in the recession.

"I'm a big believer in using all the tools in the toolbox. People can get the information however they like to," said Mary O'Keefe, chief marketing officer at Principal.

Unilever, the FMCG giant, has adopted a similar strategy for Fan vs Wild, which is linked to its Degree deodorant brand, and stars Bear Grylls, who features in Man vs Wild on the Discovery Channel.

It has launched a content to find four people to take part in "wilderness challenges", the results of which will form the basis of an online series.

One member of this group will then go on to participate in an hour-long TV special, which will be shown on the Discovery Channel in August this year.

"We want guys to connect with that feeling of adventure and know that Degree Men won't let them down," said Jay Matthew, director of marketing for Degree Men.

Constellation Brands has also teamed up with American Express on Pairings, a food-and-wine based internet series that features combinations of well-known chefs and musicians.

Each webisode was filmed in front of a live studio audience, made up exclusively of American Express cardholders.

"This is a huge step forward as we think about how consumers interact with wine," said Chris Fehrnstrom, chief marketing officer of Constellation Wines.

"We have a portfolio of distinctive brands ... and to bring them to life in such an interactive environment is an exciting step for us."

Dominic Sandifer, his counterpart at GreenLight Media and Marketing, which developed the format, argued this mix of "live and digital experiences" was the "hallmark of social networking".

He added that the company is hoping to pitch the idea to cable networks, with the aim of taking "an even deeper look at the creative collaborations and inspirations" of the celebrities involved.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by Warc staff