Fuse Ignites Customized Broadband Product for Web-Savvy Audience

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While MTV continues producing soundtrack-ed reality shows that have little to do with music, Fuse has been ably picking up the slack for the last couple of years when it comes to actual music videos. Tired of playing second fiddle to its iconic archrival, the upstart, the New York-based network is now reaching out to its broadband-utilizing, 12-34 audience with a new highly interactive product/portal coined “Just for the F of It.”

But in an interesting twist, rather than procure standard media buys and rely on the usual yawn-inducing banner clicks to direct visitors, Fuse is linking its creative content with over a dozen of its affiliate ISPs like Comcast and Cox. “What we were trying to do was give our affiliates their own proprietary property rather than repurposing stuff that was on our consumer website,” Fuse Marketing Manager Alison Hellman tells ADOTAS. “It was [designed] to give them an experience that pushed their websites.”

The proprietary property in question was designed by SoCal agency JUXT Interactive, who unleashed a whirling dervish of a site that features cutting-edge design elements, with music, gaming and entertainment content — which, aptly enough, all begins with the letter F. “There are flying saucers, four-eyed freaks, the fugly fairy, Francois the French Ferret, and there are some more we’re working on. It keeps getting funnier and funnier,” explains JUXT creative director Todd Purgason. He adds, “It’s meant to be a music video-esque experience, quick fun, playful, unexpected and spontaneous. We’re just using interactivity and the audio to fill the experience with surprises. From a technological standpoint, it’s just a fun broadband experience.”

The Flash-devoted Justforthefofit.com, catchy title aside, offers a “Band of the month” feature, which boasts music videos, bios, artwork and more from a band in heavy rotation on Fuse. In addition, the site offers, Easter-egg style hidden music downloads, as well as downloadable desktop “stickers”, which Purgason says aren’t commonplace in an interactive campaign. “The idea of people downloading stickers that they can stick on their desktop, we’ve never seen that been done. It’s a little bit pranky and rebellious. [It’s] this fun little application.”

But the most exclusive content thus far is the “Hi My Name is Mark” section, which is run by ex-Blink 182 bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus and features his weekly-updated blog and bi-weekly podcasts of all his happenings.

Purgason says that this new creation offers a fresh perspective on interactive campaigns. “The sad thing about the Web and the interactive medium is that because of database structure, it’s so rigid and the ease of maintenance is such a big deal. Things typically are a square image and a bunch of text coming out of the database.” He continues, “When you watch 30 minutes of a TV channel like Fuse, there’s an intense amount of creative that you’re experiencing. It’s not just text out of a database. What we’re trying to do is bring the interactive up to that level.”

In the coming months, JustfortheFofit.com, which already offers a world of humorous, devious animated gems through simple clicks and rollovers, will unveil a plethora of new goodies, including a “Fuseball” game (a takeoff of foosball), as well as monthly-updated band of the month section and a customized programming page that serves as a TV guide of sorts for each of Fuse’s cable ISPs – or multiple service operators (MSOs). “We really want the experience to start within an MSO’s website, and from where the customer came, that’s going to carry through the experience,” explains JUXT CMO Josh Mooney. “So we essentially built 16 different version of the site, carrying through your [exclusive] MSO’s advertising. So on that programming page [on Justforthefofit.com], you’ll think you’re still part of the Comcast experience when you’re on the site.”

Mooney notes that since the majority of broadband users’ default site is that of their ISP, creating a richer experience exclusive to that ISP was a no-brainer. He cites Fuse marketing manager Hellman’s innovative ideas as the catalyst for this new promotion. “[Alison’s] job is to make the cable companies aware of how cool Fuse is, help them promote it on their lineup of programming advertising, to try to reduce churn and get people excited about paying $60 for Comcast,” he says. “One of the ways she sought an opportunity to do that is to provide some content for their own broadband portals, basically a site like Comcast.net. Since Comcast is a huge ISP, a lot of people have that as their homepage, and millions of people still start their web experience on their ISP’s page. So for the cable companies, they’re looking to be a portal [that offers] really cool content and gets people thinking, ‘this is Comcast bringing me all this cool stuff’ so that they won’t look for a better cable deal or go over to satellite.”

Fuse’s affiliate marketing staff will also work with each MSO to create and distribute an HTML email highlighting new content on the site, and in turn, the information will then be pushed to the consumer. Plus, each page on Justforthefofit.com features a “Tell a Friend” option, which they hope will generate viral buzz and redirect consumers to Fuse’s various content offerings including the linear network, Fuse-On-Demand and fuse.tv.

“It’s an experience-driven initiative to provide exclusive music-related content to music fans who are visiting their ISP’s website,” Mooney summarizes.

The 12-34 target market provides a sizeable umbrella for Fuse to push its product and affiliates, offering them the most web-savvy of audiences in the process.

“We tried to think strategically about what would make kids want to come back, and make it a place where kids wanted to spend time,” says Hellman. “The 12-34 [demographic], they all live online, so were just sort of going where they are.”

Want to follow, and have some ‘F’ing fun in the process? Visit www.justforthefofit.com

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