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Tom Brady and Ugg Treat Video as the New TV

  |  September 16, 2011   |  Comments

What’s the difference between an online video and a TV commercial? Not much.

What’s the difference between an online video and a TV commercial? Not much, according to a new campaign for Ugg shoes for men. The brand, known for women’s fur-lined boots, hired agency M&C Saatchi, Los Angeles, to work on a fall television campaign to launch its men’s line with new pitchman Tom Brady, New England Patriot’s quarterback.

But when research showed a major hitch with that plan, the campaign shifted to an all-digital initiative anchored by online video, says James Bray, M&C Saatchi creative director. The problem? “We found that men didn’t accept that Ugg could become a men’s brand, they just said, ‘no way’ would they ever wear Uggs,” Bray told ClickZ. The feeling was that consumers needed to be educated about what men’s Uggs would look like before the company invested in expensive TV ads, says Bray. “We decided to show close-ups of the shoes and boots in something similar to educational videos, and online was the best way to do that,” due to its targeting and measuring capabilities, he notes.

Then, in a twist that’s becoming more common as brands and marketing agencies bounce between platforms, one of the videos produced for the web led right back to television. “We had to put Brady in one of the videos because he was the new brand spokesman. When client executives saw that video, they got excited and came up with the money to put it on TV,” says Bray.

The leap from online to TV is often less spontaneous. For instance, when Google decided to run a Super Bowl ad last year, it created several videos that it posted on YouTube a few weeks before the game. The video that got the most views was aired on TV, and the company measured the post-game spike in traffic.

The Brady Ugg spot, backed by the lyrics of hip hop artist Mos Def, also debuted on YouTube a week before it ran on TV. But in this case, the online preview was reinforced with a heavy PR push that revealed the spot was destined for TV during the Monday Night Football game between the Patriots and the Miami Dolphins. Buzz about Brady and the commercial served as a trigger to push consumers to the brand’s website and Facebook page, where they could view and shop the entire line of men’s products. It certainly helped the campaign that in the game Brady passed for 517 yards and four touchdowns to beat the Dolphins.

Post-game Twitter patter about Brady’s on-field performance invariably included reference to him in the ad – and not necessarily in a good way. A sampling:

Twitter user @FauxJohnMadden quipped, “Mike Vick's Nike endorsement just fell off the couch laughing at Tom Brady's Ugg's endorsement.” His tweet was retweeted more than 100 times.

Meanwhile @MiamiNewTimes tweeted, “Tom Brady is the New Ugg Boots for Men Spokesman, Which At Least Gives Dolphins a Moral Victory.”

Skepticism with the campaign concept, in fact, turned out to be fuel that fed the online buzz around the product line and its association with Brady. (The spot will continue to air nationally.)

How about the initial results? Within six days the Brady video on YouTube grabbed 153,000 views. Within 12 hours after the ad aired, Uggs fan base on Facebook increased by 1,000, to about 865,600. On Twitter Ugg attracted 70 more followers, to about 9,000 during the same period.

The Ugg for men videos that don’t feature Brady had been viewed only about 100 times each on YouTube by the morning after the game. Within a month another online video will be added, showing a man wearing Ugg boots meeting a woman as he waits for a cab on a snowy night.

Bray says the agency looks at the Brady spot as a video that also happens to run on TV. “The computer is the new TV,” he says. “Online a spot lives a lot longer than on TV, it can get played over and over and shared. It’s not efficient to think of a spot as only TV or online. The old labels don’t really work."

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Joan Voight is a Contributing Editor to ClickZ. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she has covered online and offline media, marketing and advertising since the mid-1990s for several business publications. She spent nine years at Adweek magazine, where she was San Francisco bureau chief, national senior writer and contributing reporter.

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