A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.
Most advertisers want viewers' eyes glued to the TV screen, but Unilever will ask men to check their phones and watch a video in exchange for free stuff.
The company is using Viggle, a month-old service that rewards people with points when they check into TV shows or commercials, as a key part of its March Madness campaign for Dove Men+Care.
"We wanted to reach our guy absolutely everywhere he's ready to consume the message," said Rob Candelino, Unilever marketing director-personal wash. "This is pioneering technology we're really excited about. We think it's very cool, and the opportunity for us to go one step further behind what's already a very rich campaign."
Viggle recognizes audio signals from TV programs and rewards points based on what the networks or sponsors are willing to fund. Those points can be redeemed for such things as movie passes or gift cards from vendors such as Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and JCPenney.
Unilever is also sponsoring bonus Viggle points for viewers who watch branded videos or ads. Any ad people check into at any time using Viggle will be different from the one running during the program, Mr. Candelino said.
The latest flights of Dove Men+Care "Journey to Comfort" ads from Davie Brown Entertainment, advancing a 2-year-old campaign, feature NBA players Shaquille O' Neal and Steve Nash and Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo recounting formative moments in their lives.
Dove will also back the campaign with a Facebook app that lets users send customized phone messages from Mr. O' Neal to friends. Dove Men+Care has used iAd videos and ads since its launch in 2010. The Viggle app has had more than 250,000 downloads since its introduction on Jan. 25, said Chris Stephenson, president of Function(x), the company behind Viggle.
More than 200,000 users are active weekly, for a daily average of 5.5 check-ins and 34 engagements with advertising or promotions, Mr. Stephenson said. User sessions last an average of 85 minutes, he added.
"This is far and above any of our expectations in terms of how deeply people would engage," Mr. Stephenson said. The Dove campaign is part of a larger deal with Unilever . "More important than the value of the deal to us is the fact that we have a partner integrating fully into the program and utilizing many different aspects," he said.
Though Unilever isn't promoting Viggle through elements of the Dove Men+Care campaign beyond publicity, he said, two other as-yet-undisclosed sponsors have agreed to promote Viggle in other media as part of their deals.
~ ~ ~
CORRECTION: The original version of this article stated that Ogilvy & Mather was responsible for the latest flights of Dove Men+Care "Journey to Comfort" ads. In fact, the ads are from Davie Brown Entertainment.