HBO Promotes “Band of Brothers” with Out-of-Banner Ad

Another major entertainment company is tapping the out-of-banner ad format to promote upcoming offerings, with HBO joining the list this week in an advertising effort for “Band of Brothers.”

The company, which is owned by New York-based AOL Time Warner, is running an ad on Weather.com to promote the 10-week mini-series, which begins Sunday.

When the Weather.com page loads, users hear a sound clip of the growl of airplane engines and an air raid siren. Seconds later, planes fly along the top of the page, dropping paratroopers. In the middle of the screen, a sniper’s scope pans over a line of soldiers. Then the ad shrinks to a standard-sized animated banner.

The execution was planned by Earthquake Media, a New York-based integrated media planning firm. Working in conjunction with HBO and its traditional agency of record, Omnicom’s BBDO Worldwide, Earthquake has the ad running throughout the week.

“We wanted to do something big, and this is really big,” said Earthquake president and chief executive Robert Davidman.

The ad uses United Virtualities’ Shoshkeles out-of-banner format, which Earthquake said it used because of its multi-browser compatibility.

The weeklong buy on Weather.com — which Jupiter Media Metrix ranks as the 26th most popular Web site in terms of unique visitors — comes as a greater number of traditional advertisers are taking a long, hard look at larger and more noticeable ad formats, and as more publishers become willing to accept them.

Entertainment-oriented firms and studios are among the biggest adopters. In recent months, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Lions Gate Films have all debuted “out-of-banner” ads in support of new releases.

Similarly, automotive marketers like Ford — which typically spends hundreds of millions on television advertising — are devoting a slice of their online ad budgets to the new ad format as well, aiming to reach consumers while they’re otherwise engaged with Web content.

“Advertisers are looking for things that are going to separate them from the clutter that’s out there,” Davidman said. “HBO, as an entertainment company, does a very, very good job of marketing their shows in all the spaces. They are one of the people that I would say ‘get it.’ And they like to do things that are definitely going to achieve objectives — in this case, it’s to tune in.”

As for Earthquake, the ad is the second recent effort on behalf of HBO, for which it handles all digital media. The network currently is running a pop-up ad on behalf of its new series, “The Mind of the Married Man” on Esquiremag.com, Playboy.com, and Dow Jones’ Barrons.com and WSJ.com.

That execution features a poll (using technology from San Francisco-based Interpolls), a streaming video trailer, and a “forward-to-a-friend” component.

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