ManiaTV Goes Extra Mile for Jeep and Indie Folk Artist

Using music to promote a car is nothing new, and neither is a band/auto brand cross-promotion. A new twist on those standbys on live original Web TV site ManiaTV will put the car — Jeep Patriot — and the musician — pop folk artist Coles Whalen — in the spotlight. Starting yesterday, footage of the dulcet-voiced songwriter en route in the SUV to Austin’s South by Southwest indie music extravaganza are being shown during ManiaTV’s daily productions, “The Daily Independent,” a show featuring lesser-known music, and “Ten80,” an action sports show.

“This the first [campaign] where we actively co-branded it that way,” said the site’s head of music programming, Stefan Goldby. Whalen played at the site’s Denver studio, prompting execs to seek out a sponsor for a possible collaboration. Though this particular effort was not developed in conjunction with a record label, ManiaTV has relationships with both major and indie labels, according to Goldby. Jeep-related footage will run on the site for the next few months as part of the campaign.

Jeep distributed its own “Meet the Mudds” videos for the Jeep Commander on MobiTV‘s live mobile TV service in 2005. That experience “gave us a better understanding of what we might do in the future,” said James Kenyon, senior manager of marketing PR for Jeep parent company DaimlerChrysler. “It led us to what we’re doing now.”

In addition to its on-demand programs, ManiaTV offers a mix of 20 live shows 24 hours each day aimed at pop-culture and music fans. The network’s Cyber Jockeys, or CJs, along with its professionally-produced music, celebrity and action sports content, and user-generated video channels create an MTV/Current/YouTube hybrid advertisers seem to be comfortable with.

A live talk show with comedian Tom Green, once an MTV mainstay, is a nightly event on the site. And advertisers are competing for the sponsorship slot on an upcoming production featuring guitarist Dave Navarro, according to ManiaTV CEO Drew Massey.

Campaigns on the site are “really integrated,” said Sacha Xavier, regional lead, advanced marketing solutions at Avenue A/Razorfish, which will launch a campaign later this month on the site for its client Verizon. The effort will center on an action hero theme, allowing users to create their own avatars. Part of several campaign-related scenarios, ManiaTV CJs will interview Verizon’s action mascot and make their own action hero movies.

Verizon also just launched an exclusive sponsorship of ManiaTV show “Rapper’s D Lite” to promote its Verizon Beat Box Mixer Web site. The advertiser uses the site for branding efforts and to test emerging marketing tactics, said Xavier.

As part of its goal to become a broadband media brand in its own rite, Verizon also does integrated campaigns on MSN’s in-game ad network Massive and Heavy.com. Still, Xavier considers the content produced by ManiaTV to be “really kosher” compared to the more risqué clips seen on Heavy, or other user-generated video sharing sites like MySpace or YouTube. Since ManiaTV began allowing users to create their own video channels on the site, though, there is certainly a variety of content there that advertisers might not be interested in sponsoring.

According to Comscore, ManiaTV drew 3.1 million unique visitors in December 2006, compared with the 29.6 million on YouTube, 11.6 million on MySpace Videos and 6.4 million on Heavy Networks.

In addition to Jeep and Verizon, advertisers including GM, Procter and Gamble, Amp’d Mobile and Best Buy have been seen on ManiaTV. Old Spice, Hyundai and Nintendo are among current sponsors of Mania-produced shows.

Online publishers such as AtomFilms, About.com, Hearst Magazines and Hachette Filipacchi are ramping up original video in the hopes of attracting advertisers to quality video content reaching niche audiences.

Sponsorship bumpers, display ads and mid-roll video ads complement plugs for advertisers by ManiaTV’s CJs, who may wear an advertisers’ shoes or emerge from the trunk of a sponsor’s vehicle. Xavier, told ClickZ News she’s even seen CJs point to an ad banner and tell viewers to click on it.

“The CJs are willing to do anything,” she said.

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