Ford's Fiesta compact car is starring in a new Web-TV program called ControlTV, a reality show where crowd-sourcing determines its narrative direction.
The show, via Web video company Digital Broadcasting Group (DBG) and actor Seth Green, follows a 20-something, L.A.-based man whose daily pursuits -- what he wears and eats, where he works and whom he dates -- will be determined by audience voting. The guy will drive a Fiesta and, since Sprint Nextel is also a sponsor, will use a Nextel smartphone.
Connie Fontaine, Ford's manager of brand content and alliances, tells Marketing Daily that Ford got involved because the medium and format are new and innovative.
"This project is much more engaging with the viewer than traditional TV because, like the Sims video games, users help influence what happens next in the story line. The Fiesta is part of the main character's everyday life so a lot of that engagement will be about how and where he uses his Fiesta," she says. "This is a great way for us to showcase the Fiesta and the way our target would use the vehicle."
The videos will not be bookended with Ford or Sprint ads, "But there will potentially be an intro to the show," explains Rick Kleczkowski, chief operating officer of DBG. He tells Marketing Daily the show will also have "engagement elements" associated with the viewing platform as well as viral components through social media, such as viewers' ability to post to Facebook, "and all of those elements -- beyond merely time spent viewing content -- are measured."
"This is more integration into the content than product placement," says Fontaine. "Viewers will see much more of the car and its features than a pure product placement opportunity." She says Ford will have specific Fiesta segments within the program and will also be activating the opportunity "in ways that will drive traffic to the program itself."
Fontaine says that the viewer demographic fits Fiesta, which is targeted to younger urban consumers. "The content is also a great opportunity to showcase our product in a way our target can relate to," she says.
According to Kleczkowski, DBG's network comprises over 2,500 portals and lifestyle Web sites including targeting 18- to-34-year-olds. He says the ControlTV Web content will run first as a daily live stream on a destination site to be determined. Then DBG will distribute webisodes based on edited highlights of the live-streamed program across its network "to highly targeted audiences," he says.
The deal with Ford, Sprint, DBG and the show's creators was brokered by Creative Artists Agency, an entertainment and sports agency.