Video game maker Ubisoft has signed on as the first sponsor of HubFX, a Web site designed to create a more direct connection between viewers and advertisers during the FX cable network’s movies.
Ubisoft will be introducing a new game, Assassin’s Creed, in November. Visitors to the HubFX Web site will be able to watch a demonstration of Assassin’s Creed, get a coupon for a discount on the purchase of the game and enter a sweepstakes.
The video game maker also will be the exclusive sponsor of FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Nov. 8. The comedy is being reformatted to accommodate a four-minute movie-style trailer showing scenes from Assassin’s Creed.
Marketers, who get information about how many people see and respond to their online advertising, are looking for similar data about their TV advertising. This year, with commercial ratings, advertisers are getting a better idea of how many people are watching, and multimedia marketing programs generate some of the user-response metrics they are seeking.
Michael Brochstein, senior VP for ad sales at FX, said HubFX gives advertisers a retail component to their TV advertising. Essentially, HubFX is an online store that will feature one advertiser’s product a week.
“Everyone’s clamoring for attention. I’m giving them instant gratification,” Mr. Brochstein said. “Watch HubFX, get cool stuff” is shorthand for the site’s appeal.
FX has been slowly signing up other clients for HubFX. Mr. Brochstein declined to name them, but they include a fast-food chain (sources say KFC) and a movie studio. Also interested are a computer company and a theme park.
Mr. Brochstein is targeting companies that have content that can be displayed and will make special offers that would appeal to FX viewers.
After the first few advertisers have used HubFX, he said, it should be easier to sell because it will have a track record and metrics to document how many people went to the site, watched video or requested and used coupons.
“Everyone says this looks good, but people are waiting for someone else to go first,” Mr. Brochstein said.
HubFX is geared to FX’s Thursday night movie, which has been branded “Reel FX” and is programmed to appeal to adults 18 to 34.
The movie playing on the night FX launches HubFX will be “Hellboy.” The network has created spots it calls “screenwraps” that incorporate footage from the film to push viewers to the site. The pitch is basically, “If you like ‘Hellboy,’ we’ve got something else you’d like,” Mr. Brochstein said.
FX worked closely with Ubisoft and its agency, Kastner & Partners, in designing the site and the promotional spots.
Commercials for both Ubisoft and its link to HubFX will run leading up to the movie, which itself will contain several spots for Ubisoft. The film will be followed by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” which will open with an announcement that the show is being presented with limited commercials by Assassin’s Creed.
Mr. Brochstein wouldn’t say how much the effort is costing Ubisoft, but he said the company has significantly increased its spending with the network.
On the HubFX site, viewers will be able to see a trailer for the game, download a product guide, download a demo of the game, respond to questions from Ubisoft and get a coupon.
The coupon is delivered as bar codes that appear on the user’s phone. The user presents that barcode in a store, the phone is scanned and the discount is rung up.
“A 21-year-old won’t download and print out a coupon,” he said.
Mr. Brochstein figures the specialized advertising during the movie and “Sunny” should help the network’s commercial ratings by retaining viewers with the unusual advertising.
“If I’m driving people to cool stuff, I’ve got a better shot at keeping them,” he said.