Cartoon Network Partners With Zune For Alternative Up-Front

Microsoft's Zune and Turner Broadcasting's Cartoon Network partnered to deliver an edgy, quirky spin on the traditional upfront presentations that networks give to advertisers--instead of showing them the network's content, attendees got to take it home with them on specially branded Zunes.

Cartoon Network threw a party at the Chelsea Museum in New York last night at which 500 attendees were left with specially branded Zunes containing preview content of new and returning "Adult Swim" shows that normally would have been shown at the upfront.

Zune advertises during "Adult Swim," and the idea of combining Zune's brand message of community and interactivity with Cartoon Network's desire to approach the upfront in a non-traditional way made perfect sense, Microsoft told Marketing Daily.

"When we launched Zune last fall we set out to push the boundaries of digital entertainment so we were thrilled when "Adult Swim" approached us about this project," said Chris Stephenson, Zune's GM of Global Marketing. "They were looking to put a new twist on presentation of their fall programming, and Zune provided a unique and entertaining way to unveil the new line-up. It's a great fit."



Given the Cartoon Network's recent challenges in finding alternative attempts to virally market its content, it's little wonder the company would look for a more mainstream approach to out-of-the box marketing. And given Zune's slow but steady attempt to grow market share among the young, male, tech-savvy audience that its shares with the "Adult Swim" demographic, the pairing was ripe.

In addition, the company noted that a lot of the "Adult Swim" audience watches content on Zune's three-inch LCD screen. "It really works for the content, so it makes sense to display the content on this platform," said Sara Ball, Microsoft spokesperson.

While Cartoon Network executives did make a brief presentation previewing some of the content, the focus of the evening was on interactivity and immersion. Rather than having attendees sit in a theater and watch clips of Cartoon Network shows, guests milled around the museum, cocktails in hand, visiting stations set up for each of the 14 featured Cartoon Network shows to the background of music spun by DJ Jesus, inspired by and dressed like one of the network's characters.

Separately, Microsoft announced that Zune maintained a 9.1% share of the hard-drive device market for March, and will begin a revamped print and broadcast advertising campaign in May focusing on consumer education about Zune's wireless capabilities and FM-tuner. The company also introduced a new color for the device--baby pink, which is available online now and will be widely available in May. Zune Marketplace has added over 500,000 tracks since launch.

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