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Like 'The Real World,' With More Computers
source: New York Times


Contestants in the video series “Engine Room,” sponsored by Hewlett-Packard and produced by MTV and mtvU, working as a team with the help of H.P. computer gear in a Brooklyn apartment.
NY Times/T. Lawrence Wheatman/MTV



"We take three, four months to create a commercial, and we saw kids creating parodies on YouTube" in a fraction of the time, said Nancy Reyes, an account director on the Hewlett-Packard account at Goodby, Silverstein in San Francisco, part of the Omnicom Group.

"The idea of giving these kids who are creating amazing things with computers a stage, a global stage, to show off their work seemed like a natural fit," she added.

The decision to go back to MTV and mtvU -- part of the MTV Networks division of Viacom -- was made based on what was deemed a good result for "Meet or Delete," a dating series that was introduced in 2006. Episodes can still be watched online at meetordelete.com. Programs like "Meet or Delete" and "Engine Room," which are created for marketers and feature products interwoven into the plots, are becoming more popular among executives at TV networks. Such shows, known on Madison Avenue as branded entertainment, have to walk a fine line between entertaining audiences and pitching to them.

"Our audiences don't wait for a TV show or a Web site to get good," said Ross Martin, senior vice president for programming at mtvU in New York. "They don't like it, they hit stop or they hit delete." Thus, "if we compromise the quality of the work or the integrity of the content," he added, "we lose our credibility and we're done."

Advertisers like Ford Motor, General Electric, Microsoft and Yahoo have also worked with mtvU on branded-entertainment projects, Mr. Martin said.

A search on Google for information about the mtvU reality series for Ford, "College 500," which matches two student teams in a cross-country race, turns up almost 2.8 million results.

Viewers will be able to watch the episodes of "Engine Room" on mtvU in the United States, on various MTV channels in other countries and online -- in nine languages -- at mtvengineroom.com. As the editing of the episodes nears completion, Mr. Martin said he could not discuss which team won the competition.

However, he added, "I will tell you, the winning team won by a point after six challenges."


   







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