New Motorola Campaigns Go Beyond the Banner

Motorola has boosted its beyond-banner media spending with new experience-driven placements on Maxim.com, VH1.com And UGO.com. It’s also sponsoring a new function on Wirefly.com that lets people create their own avatar-based wireless ring tones and share them with friends. The Q4 deployments target a young, mostly male demographic.

Carat Fusion, Motorola’s North American media agency of record, handled the bulk of the planning efforts. The Wirefly.com sponsorship was set up directly between Motorola and inPhonic, which owns the cell phone e-tailer and other sites.

Dennis Digital’s Maxim.com is the host of a Motorola Pad section that lets visitors click around a purportedly bachelor-perfect living room to learn about its Bluetooth and other wireless products. Among the gadgets scattered about a virtual couch, easy chair and floor are its Bluetooth headset, Q phone and portable Bluetooth speaker. A laptop, TV and stack of mail provide less direct means of interaction with Motorola stuff.

Banner and other placements on Maxim and other Dennis Digital sites, including Blender.com and Stuffmagazine.com, point to the microsite; and an additional “Pimp Your Pad” sweepstakes attached to the site will give away a number of Motorola gadgets and Maxim schwag.

“What we’re trying to do is create a conversation between Motorola and the high-end early adopter audience,” said Sean Corcoran, account supervisor for Motorola in Carat Fusion’s Boston office. “The point of this campaign is for the Q and what we call the ‘mobile me’ products — the Bluetooth products — to position them more as everyday tools.”

Corcoran said the effort was not explicitly a holiday campaign, though the idea is that young men might ask for the featured gadgets as gifts.

The Motorola Pad is indicative of a growing trend in which publishers act as agencies at the behest of advertisers’ media planning divisions, developing custom solutions suited to a particular Web site’s audience and content. However, the arguably bland ad copy in the present case (“Anyone with a cool pad will need to complement their style with some cool duds.”) offers a possible caveat against what can happen when site owners and media agencies partner on specialized experiences without the involvement of a creative shop.

Dennis Digital and Carat Fusion both said such branded experiences are typically billed like ordinary media buys, though a premium fee is often charged when video or other pricey production is involved.

“There are two ways to look at it,” said Steven Rosenblatt, VP of sales at Dennis Digital. “In some cases the advertiser will say, ‘Here’s the production budget; keep the media separate.'” But more often, he said, “they don’t have the production budget. Often what we’ll do is charge a bit of a premium on the media and that helps cover the production costs.”

The Motorola-sponsored mobile avatars on Wirefly.com were created through a partnership between avatar specialist Oddcast and WireFly.com parent inPhonic, which sells mobile phones and plans online.

Web users can visit a page at Wirefly.com/udoo to create and give voice to personalized avatars. These can be sent via MMS (define) to friends, who can choose to attach the files to that person’s phone number and display the avatar every time he or she calls. The talking avatars can also be uploaded to MySpace and shared via e-mail. The feature is free for 60 days, after which it costs $4.99 per month for avatar creators.

The effort is part of an push by inPhonic to build brand awareness for Wirefly.com, which has so far limited its on- and off-site marketing efforts to direct sales.

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