Universal Pictures to Launch ReplayTV Ad, Branding Campaign

Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios, said it will run ads and messaging on ReplayTV — marking the first time an advertising and marketing campaign has been launched on a personal TV system.

Universal Pictures will use several advertising vehicles to deliver movie trailers and to promote its films throughout ReplayTV’s interface. The introduction of a channel, which will help Universal in marketing itself, is especially interesting because one of the biggest concerns about the ReplayTV system — and that of its rival TiVo — has been that consumers would use them to avoid watching commercials.

“Working with ReplayTV makes it feasible for us to build and maintain an in-the-home relationship with our consumers by delivering our latest releases of theatrical and home video previews directly to ReplayTV households,” said Universal Pictures marketing president Marc Shmuger.

ReplayTV allows users to pause, stop, store and replay live television shows using digital video recording technology. Using the system’s free dialup ReplayTV Service, it also functions like a VCR, recording pre-specified television shows.

The ReplayTV Service also features its own channels that amalgamate shows and movies by type (e.g., sitcoms, talk shows, sci-fi) — called “ReplayZones”.

As part of the deal, Universal will receive its own branded ReplayZone, which will feature movies, upcoming trailers and behind-the-scenes clips, some of which will be exclusively for ReplayTV users. Universal Pictures’ films also will gain premium positions within users’ ReplayZone channels through the agreement.

“Our brands are our movies, and by gaining an exclusive position with ReplayZones and other premium positions to promote each new release, Universal Pictures will gain valuable research and insights that will increase our overall advertising ROI in the future as personal television becomes more ubiquitous,” Shmuger said.

For their part, ReplayTV executives are enthusiastic about the agreement.

“This is a landmark partnership for ReplayTV and personal television,” said ReplayTV senior vice president of advertising Michael Teicher. “We couldn’t be more pleased to be working with Universal Pictures in this, our inaugural advertising campaign on the ReplayTV Service.”

Teicher has good reason to celebrate. The deal comes at a crucial time for ReplayTV, especially following last week’s IPO withdrawal due to unfavorable market conditions.

Additionally, the personal digital recorder market is heating up. ReplayTV’s chief rival TiVo recently announced several high-profile partnerships, including an agreement with Nielsen Media Research to enable audience measurement on its system.

Personal video recorders like ReplayTV are not the only way advertisers and ad companies have been latching onto interactive television. Lately, several online ad serving companies have been announcing partnerships with both cable and interactive TV companies.

CMGI ad server AdForce, for instance, announced last month that it has partnered with WorldGate Communications to deliver targeted ads to that company’s interactive television system.

AdForce also partnered recently with information appliance software company Liberate Technologies in an agreement that will let Liberate’s cable network operator clients to deliver advertising to set-top boxes.

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