Beyond Product Placement: Advertiser as Content Creator

An example of advertisers attempting to connect with Latin youth on their own terms came this past year in the Latin American market, when FOX and Axe deodorant teamed up to produce  a custom animated series. The approach was to captivate the older side of the youth market in Latin America with the production of City Hunters, a custom TV animation series that FOX Latin America produced around Axe Deodorant, a company which is known for its racy advertising. The series featured gorgeous and scantily clad females fawning over male protagonists, whose intoxicating scents were too strong to resist.

Speaking at a forum at this year’s Ad-Tech Miami, Hector Costa, Senior VP, Managing Director, Fox Networks Latam & US Hispanic, outlined the project and the way that Fox worked with Axe to meet its objectives, in this rare example of Advertiser-created content.

According to Costa, the project was not without its challenges. Fox had to satisfy viewer demands for quality original programming, while navigating some of the legal restrictions of product integration. Axe needed to appeal to a demographic that is becoming increasingly elusive to traditional marketing efforts, and whose attention is becoming dispersed across different media vehicles.

Costa outlined the set objectives of both Fox and Axe in the following way:

1. Fox Objectives:

.Generate ratings and reinforce its edgy placement.
.360 integration with sponsor.
.Generate business in all platforms with affinity to target (cable TV, network TV, cellphones, Internet, VOD, licenses).

2. Axe Objectives:

.Transform Axe into an icon in the “Game of Seduction.”
.Increase the deodorant’s brand equity.
.Increase sales volume

3. Strategy:

Toward these ends, the two entities teamed up on a multi-platform pop-culture assault, which included the animated series, branded product packaging featuring City Hunters characters and images, a dedicated mini-site, a mobile component, outdoor promotional billboards, a press conference, contests, and widespread editorial coverage in print products that ranged from La Nacion to Playboy Argentina.

4. Results:

In line with the multiplatform approach that the companies took in publicizing the project, the success metrics were equally varied and numerous, and included:

FOX: Ratings similar to The Simpsons in target (+1 avg pts)

Broadcast TLF: Averaged 9 pts households and 5.5 in target (12.30am)

.Brand presence from Oct ‘06 to May ‘07

.Major National and International coverage

.Limited edition Axe products doubled sales expectations

.Webpage received +670K visits

.Mobile obtained acceptable results (niche product)

By these measures, the collaboration between the two companies appears to have been a success. Some Ad-tech attendees were skeptical as to the actual lasting appeal that would be generated by such a program, and wondered if viewers weren’t put-off by such blatant product-driven programming. On the other hand, the numbers speak for themselves and, as that is the case, it is quite possible that this sort of client-sponsored content creation will become much more prevalent in the future.