Coordinated by interactive firm Interevco and Schick ad agency J. Walter Thompson, the partnership calls for FHM to create gaming, digital entertainment, fashion and grooming stories and reviews for the Quattro site, with new material arriving every two weeks (ESPN will provide content for the site's sports channel). The promotion goes live today and will run through the end of the year. The Quattro will also become the exclusive sponsor of the games section on FHM's US web site (www.fhmus.com).
According to Interevco chief executive officer Paul DeBraccio, the arrangement is different from most other consumer product/media alliances in that it is in no way, shape or form an advertorial. "Schick didn't buy a media schedule," he notes. "They negotiated a deal to buy the content. It's not 'use the Schick Quattro while playing video games!'"
DeBraccio - who, it should be noted, now represents Schick as well as FHM - said that the laddie mag won a heated derby for the business over several rivals. [J. Walter Thompson] made it kind of a lottery," he recalls. "It was virtually every magazine that appealed to young men between 18 and 34." He adds that the idea was cleared well in advance with FHM's editors, who were initially leery of the possibility of marketers encroaching on their editorial turf: "We spoke with the FHM web master, who said that Schick could select the categories [of content] that they wanted but that they couldn't change anything that was submitted. Nobody had any problem with that."
In terms of generating brand loyalty for the Quattro, it's questionable whether the online campaign will achieve its goal. After all, anybody wanting to hear from FHM writers and editors can pick up a copy of the magazine or hit the web site for similar reviews and stories. But Schick can't be faulted for trying something a little bit different: web sites that do little more than flog a given product's features rarely generate much in the way of excitement. While there may be a handful of consumers who are eager to learn more about, say, the metallurgical processes involved in the creation of Quattro's blades, they're not exactly in the majority.
"Advertisers usually put together a web site for a new product or brand, and then it just sits there. The same product data is there forever," he says, pointing to the pharmaceutical sector by way of comparison. "[Pharma companies] learned pretty quickly that they needed to have real health information on their sites. People weren't going to stick around to read product disclaimers."
DeBraccio concedes that when the Schick/FHM idea was first pitched to him, he "had a hard time getting [his] arms around it." But he understood immediately what Schick was attempting to accomplish. For men's grooming products like razors, brand loyalty tends to be cemented at an early age - meaning that anything that gives Schick an edge with the young male set is likely to pay off both now and down the road.
"Sometimes I go away for the weekend with friends and they have a shaving cream from years and years ago - you know, like an old can of Barbasol," he laughs.
While DeBraccio says that he can't recall FHM ever before forging this kind of marketing relationship, he believes that media companies will increasingly look to similar arrangements in the years ahead. "You're going to see advertisers totally screw things up, of course," he quips. "But think about this from FHM's perspective. It's another outlet for them and it's not like they're bastardizing what they do. It helps get people more into the magazine. What's not to like?"