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Starburst Supports Web Shows Quietly

Jul 20, 2008  •  Post A Comment

A handful of video blogging stars and indie Web shows are getting some love from a big brand advertiser: Starburst.
The Mars-owned candy brand launched a digital marketing campaign last week centered almost exclusively on subtle brand messaging behind videos from Web stars David Jr., Rhett and Link, Katers17, David Choi and “Nite Fite,” an animated talk show from Web studio Next New Networks.
Starburst declined to disclose the costs of the open-ended campaign, but the brand’s entry into the online video business is one of the first big bets by a name advertiser on independent Web video. It’s a signal to the marketplace that shows repurposed from broadcast networks won’t command all of the dollars that are flowing into Web video.
Research firm the Diffusion Group said advertising in Web video should reach $590 million this year and hit $10 billion in 2013.
Investments from brands like Starburst can help boost the profiles of independent Web creators along Madison Avenue.
“It’s groundbreaking because you are starting to see that major advertisers are recognizing there is incredible creativity coming out of the Web from people of their audience and age demographic,” said Herb Scannell, CEO of Next New Networks.
Starburst targets a late-teen audience, a group that is harder to reach through traditional means, said Ryan Bowling, a spokesman for the company. “For this to work, it’s not going to be an overt marketing message,” he said. “It’s more of how to be an enabler of cool content and identify with pop culture.”
That’s why Starburst is simply giving the video bloggers topics about which to create videos, rather than running pre-roll or overlay ads on top of their sketches.
Video blogger David Jr., whose real name is David Bruce Bates Jr., created a video for Starburst on the subject “What is original?” in which he asked that question of people on the street in Manhattan. Starburst is seen only briefly at the beginning of the video. The tie-in comes through the question because “What is original?” is a tagline for the candy.
“Initially I was scared that I would be a sell-out and would have to juggle with Starburst in every video, but they didn’t have any changes to the first five videos I have done,” said Mr. Bates. He’s been commissioned to create about 16 videos over the next four months, he said.
Starburst worked closely with its digital agency Digitas, owned by Publicis, on the campaign. Digitas recruited the bloggers for the campaign.
“When you are dealing with younger audiences, especially with the amount of time they spend on the Web viewing video content, you have no choice but to engage like this,” said John McCarus, group director for brand content at Digitas.
Studies have shown that consumers, especially younger viewers, dislike pre-rolls and 30-second spots online. Subtle branding, like the “brought to you by Starburst” messages in Next New Network’s “Nite Fite,” are likely to resonate more with younger audiences.
Starburst’s bet could lead other advertisers into Web video, said Mugs Buckley, an analyst with the Diffusion Group.
“When Starburst puts its brand next to a video blogger, that’s building a comfort level with other advertisers,” she said.
Other marketers are experimenting with branded Web content. Just last week Samsung partnered with Break Media to create a three-part Web series called “Ballpark Invasion.” The series showcases ballparks captured on video by the new Samsung mobile phone.
For creators like Mr. Bates, the Starburst campaign is a chance to make some decent cash. He won’t say how much Starburst is paying him, but he’ll be able to support himself over the next few months with the money. He recently landed a six-week sponsorship from Puma, via a deal struck by video site Blip.tv, where he hosts his videos.
“Having a partnership with places like Starburst or Puma is great because the money/support is there from the beginning,” Mr. Bates said. “That helps me with exposure and money, and I can just think about doing the work.”

16 Comments

  1. David Jr.’s appeal may be outgrowing his bandwidth quickly. I just tried to run his HD Quicktime “What is original?” only to find a connection problem. That could be a sign of huge traffic.
    In any case, let’s give three cheers to Starburst for seizing upon their role as an enabler. It sounds like a winner.
    http://richreader.blogspot.com/

  2. That is great, I’m big follower of David.
    Best for you David.
    Frederico

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