Firebrand Channel Features Best TV Spots

Firebrand, an online and mobile platform featuring the "coolest" TV commercials and backed by Microsoft and NBC Universal, made its online debut this week at Firebrand.com.

The channel, which is attempting to turn "the commercial break into a commercial destination," also is available on iTunes on a nightly late-night show on the Ion Network.

"Firebrand programs TV commercials the way music networks have programmed music videos," says the site's co-founder and CEO John Lack.

Lack, an early MTV executive, is targeting so-called Millennials, or Generation Y--he believes they are just as attuned to quality commercials as they are to any breed of content.

That philosophy dovetails nicely with the hopes of marketing--which believe engaging creative will protect them from threatening consumer trends like audience fragmentation and time-shifting.

"Great ads have their place in the open exchange of content going on the Web," says Phil Leigh, an online content analyst with Inside Digital Media. "Even for older people, there's some nostalgia with the old stuff."

To date, however, this advertising-as-content strategy has achieved varying degrees of success, and failure. Anheuser-Busch's much-publicized branded destination BudTV.com has so far failed to establish an audience, while TBS' VeryFunnyAds.com reports over 73 million views since launching last year.

Didja, a site for new and classic TV spots and produced by NBCU's USA Network, is slated to launch next year. Meanwhile, a site billed as "QVC meets MTV" was launched recently by Publicis Groupe, Droga5, and Digitas. Named Honeyshed, the site streams original sketch comedy clips and live programming all focused on consumer brands and aimed at an 18- to-30-year-old audience.

Firebrand's business strategy includes paid placements on its Ion show, and advertising on its Web and mobile outlets. Ad sales is being headed up by Doug Rohrer, a former executive vice president/general sales manager at MTV Networks.

The site includes a library of some 5,000 spots, and offers various interactive opportunities for marketing promotions. Along with Firebrand.com, the "content" is available online at Microsoft's MSNVideo.com and MSN Mobile, and NBC Universal's USANetwork.com.

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