Saturday, December 6, 2008

Is your fave reality TV show owned & run by a cell phone company?

The answer is "yes", if your fave reality TV show is "Orange Unsigned Act", a nationwide competition to find the best unsigned band, or singer-songwriter, in the UK.

Musicians play live, and compete for a chance to win a record-label deal. The show debuted last year. 1,600+ bands entered the contest. The first season's winner was the band Envy and Other Sins. (seen above)

The show is owned and run entirely by European cell phone company, Orange. The advertising benefits from the show itself is just the start; the company also capitalizes on the winning band's live tour, pocket shows, and single releases.

This type of marketing is called advertising-funded programming (AFP.) It's on the rise, thanks to increased spending on digitial marketing, and the spread of broadband. A lot of new AFP initiatives started online. Nike has produced a series focusing on athletes across the main European soccer markets. TalkTalk has partnered with Channel 4, to create a series of short videos on how to save money.

Some AFP initiatives are run by a collaboration between advertising agencies, media owners, and TV production companies. Some are run by a combonation, but not all, of the above.

Some things to consider:
* Film and TV production companies know what viewers want, and how to format it. But they don't always understand the brand from a marketing perspective, and therefore have trouble creating content that resonates with the brand's values and objectives.

* Advertising agencies can run the whole initiative. For example, Audi has its own TV channel that airs exclusive content, which is produced exclusively by an advertising agency. The risk here is that agencies aren't always great at coming up with long-form content.

* Brands can be involved, but they sometimes think that the viewer is interested i more branded content, than they actually are.

The "Orange Unsigned Act" show is a good example of an AFP that works. Viewers like the content, the brand fit is seamless, and the show can be accessed by consumers in all the right places and formats.

This is a contestant performing on this year's show:
Hailing from Glasgow - 19 year old singer-songwriter Tommy Reilly absolutely wowed the judges on Orange unsignedAct with his heartfelt, original sound. He gave Lauren Laverne "goosebummps" and Lethal Bizzle "butterflies." Here you can see Tommy's full uncut performance from the show.

From what I can tell from perusing YouTube, he seems to be the musician to beat, this season.

I also like this contestant, 16-year-old Tony Sebastian, here singing Flipperty Flop:

Source: Advertising Age article.

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