Innovative Campaigns Make Most of Media

Mar 2, 2008  •  Post A Comment

With its adventurous leader Tim Spengler steering the ship, Initiative has created some of the more innovative activations of recent years. Here is a quick glance at a few of them.
Sharp Strategy #1
To recharge its target demo’s enthusiasm and excitement for the third installment of Lionsgate Films’ popular “Saw” franchise, Initiative’s Innovations & Entertainment division devised and executed a groundbreaking mobile campaign designed to leave “digital breadcrumbs” for horror lovers, breaking new ground for the client in the medium. The intent was, in effect, to “take over” MobiTV, a company that offers subscribers live TV on their mobile phones.
“Mobile is something that everyone is trying to figure out,” says Alan Cohen, president, Initiative West and Worldwide Innovation, about the campaign. “We really wanted to push the limits of what is possible.”
– First 24/7 mobile channel to build anticipation about the release via fresh content including outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage and cast interviews.
– MobiTV had executed a handful of such dedicated channels, but this was the first time the company ran interactive tune-in ads across the other networks in its service.
– First integration into mobile content, as the A-list comedy talent on Comedy Time, an original, made-for-mobile/broadband content network, was invited by the agency and MobiTV to integrate “Saw III” references.
– First interactive mobile commercials: MobiTV subscribers might see a “Saw III” ad on the Discovery Channel that they could click on to be taken to the “Saw III” channel.
– “Saw III” was the No. 1 DVD in sales and rentals in the U.S. in its first week.
Sharp Strategy #2
Working with Fox and cable networks such as Comedy Central and The CW, Initiative invented what it calls “blinks” to support the theatrical release of “Saw IV.” Blinks are five-second commercial interruptions using the familiar test-pattern color bars that used to signal the conclusion of a broadcast day, and the hissing, black-and-white fuzzy screen that appears when a signal is lost.
– Three five-second blinks appearing per pod, interspersed with other spots, plus one conventional 15-second spot for the film within the pod.
– The agency created each blink: At break, viewers saw the test pattern, followed by the fuzz, followed by the frightening face of Jigsaw, the sadistic antagonist from the series, followed in sequence by regular ads, then two more blinks.
– The pod concluded with the traditional, 15-second film promo.
Studio senior VP of media and research Erika Schimik says, “Initiative helped keep the ‘Saw’ franchise fresh by working with Viacom and other key partners like FX to get five-second blinks on the air for ‘Saw IV.’ The blinks were something that had never been done before and for the fourth year in a row helped us open to No. 1.”
Build It Better
For longtime client Home Depot, Initiative has created an ongoing series of innovations over the past few years to expand the client’s relationships with college football and connect with a core demo that loves country music. Among them:
– Immensely successful and lasting partnership with ESPN that includes franchise integrations with “ESPN Gameday.”
– Home Depot Coach of the Year to college football’s top coach.
– Title sponsor of “SEC on CBS” Southeastern Conference Division 1-A football.
– Sponsorship of the Academy of Country Music Awards, including an “orange carpet.”
– Endemic how-to partnerships with HGTV (“Hammer Heads”), DIY (“House Hunters”) and the Weather Channel (“Project of the Week”).
Running in Front
Initiative wanted to make the AOL brand come to life during its sports buys, so the agency introduced AOL’s groundbreaking Running Man product placements—arguably the first use of digital insertion technology in analog television broadcasts.
– Running Man first teamed up with Fox during replays in the 2003 World Series.
– The program later was expanded into football, hockey and NASCAR.
Punch It Up
Short attention spans and multitasking make it a lot harder for anyone’s ad messages to get through. Initiative created the Pod Puncher to break through that barrier:
– The first 5-second spot accepted on U.S. network TV, which plays just before returning to program content.
– Consumers watching the whole pod see the client’s 30-second spot, with a five-second reminder spot that “punches up the message” at the end of the break.
– Commercial skippers see only the five-second spot, making it TiVo-proof, as a DVR’s “jump back” feature is built in so the spot can’t be skipped.
(Corrects name of awards show sponsored by Home Depot to Academy of Country Music Awards)


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