Ford Sponsors Short Film ‘Festival’ on Moviefone

In advance of the AOL.com portal launch, America Online has struck a deal with Ford Motor Company to present an ongoing online short film “festival” beginning next week. The films will appear on Moviefone.com, and Ford’s Mercury Milan will be the presenting sponsor.

Featuring short films from amateur, up-and-coming, and established filmmakers will give AOL.com a fresh supply of video ad inventory, a cornerstone of its new portal strategy.

“We understand that consumers want more engaging video content, and advertisers want more opportunities to show video ads,” said Steven Yee, VP and general manager at Moviefone. “We see people looking at all kinds of video content on our site, and we felt that short films are an under-appreciated next generation of video content that will really take off on the Web.”

Beginning next week, at www.moviefone.com/shorts, visitors can view and rate the first 13 short films. Both live-action and animated, they include several comedies previously seen only at major offline film festivals like Sundance and Tribeca.

In addition to that video content, Moviefone is putting out a general call for submissions to a summer short film contest, which will culminate in awards in October of several cash prizes and one high-level meeting with Warner Brothers movie execs. Another year-long competition will begin in November. The user-supplied video will give AOL more free content to show ads against, and help build community on the Moviefone site.

Ford’s Mercury division will be the presenting sponsor for all of the short films for at least the next 12 months. Its placements will include branding for its Milan sedan on AOL’s media player, a :15 pre-roll video ad, and other executions throughout the AOL Network. In addition, Mercury Milan and Moviefone will host co-branded in-theater screenings of the short films for dealers and invited guests of Mercury.

“Sponsoring Moviefone’s online film festival is a great opportunity for the Mercury Milan to reach its target audience of young and independent consumers who are seeking something different, smarter and better like Mercury vehicles,” said Tom Grill, marketing communications manager for Lincoln Mercury. “The Mercury Milan is an entry level sedan for consumers who are very tech-savvy so sponsoring this site is a great way for us to reach them.”

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