GoFish Launches Branded Dating Show

It’s tough to compete with the biggest video Web sites around, so to help promote its new online reality show contest, video site GoFish is hoping to get the word out by posting footage to sites like YouTube, Yahoo Video and Google Video.

Launching today, America’s Dream Date is sponsored by JetSet Beverage’s JetSet energy drink. The show marks the first of GoFish’s sponsor-integrated content offerings, created in the hopes of setting the company apart from user-generated video sites as a branded video entertainment destination.

Over the past few weeks, show hopefuls have registered with GoFish and submitted videos to its site. They could also watch a handful of them on YouTube and Yahoo Video. Early entries present quirky characters like a vegan hardcore musician with a penchant for dragons, a blonde football fanatic and a hard-drinking skateboarder. GoFish has relied on this kind of viral promotion to spur interest.

“There’s been a lot of grassroots social networking,” said the firm’s CEO, Michael Downing.

Alexa ranks GoFish’s site traffic at number 8,662 among Web sites, compared to YouTube’s 16.

In addition to accepting pre-launch entries from users, the company has conducted casting call events to film contestants in order to populate the collection of video shorts. Over 200 pre-launch videos had been submitted by late last week, Downing said.

Rather than woo potential mates, the true goal of America’s Dream Date is to woo the voting audience, which, in typical reality show spirit, will have the chance to vote contenders off the show. Users can bookmark favorite entries and track their progress. The site will also publish a weekly video segment featuring contestant highlights.

“The trend is people seem to think the biggest characters and the biggest personalities will get the most votes,” observed Downing.

On September 15, the number of participants will be wittled down to 10 men and 10 women. Date challengers are encouraged to submit as many videos as they’d like, and promote them via e-mail, on their blogs, and profile pages on social networking sites. Of course, this in turn will help promote GoFish itself. During the last two weeks of the contest, viewers will decide which contestants would make a good match. The first place couple will win a trip to Paris, and second and third place pairs will be sent to Las Vegas.

GoFish pitched several potential sponsors for the show, according to Downing. Like the video site, show sponsor JetSet is using social networking to build its brand of energy drinks, which come in classic cocktail mixer flavors like Ginger Ale and Club Soda. Until the sponsorship, though, the new beverage maker has used real world social settings like bars, restaurants and clubs to push the drinks.

JetSet is hoping the sponsorship will give its brand an online presence, primarily among those 21 and up. The site is a good match for the beverage brand, explained Jetset Beverage CEO and President Jeff Silver, because “it kind of has an iPod generation look.” He added, “Part of the attractiveness for Jetset of working within the GoFish branded show is that Jetset gets multiple ‘touch-points’ with the consumer.”

GoFish will run 300×250 cube ads for JetSet alongside video, and 15-second Flash-based in-stream ads. The show will be labeled on the site as “Brought to you by JetSet,” and GoFish e-mail newsletters will include ads for the drink brand.

“We’re also having actual in-person events, cocktail parties and mixers and casting calls in certain cities,” to promote the show and the drink, said Downing. “We’re providing a venue for them to push their product prominently.”

In keeping with its goal to develop branded video entertainment, GoFish has two additional shows in development, one for a young men’s lifestyle magazine and another for a financial services firm looking to attract the college market.

“This is a way for them to create their own cable channel without building their own cable channel,” said Downing.

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