Online Makeover Reality Series a Hit With Its Sponsors

'Cube Fabulous' Brings in the Viewers for Honda and Monster

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The deal: The producers behind web-based makeover reality series "Cube Fabulous," which transforms office workstations, landed Honda as a promotional partner for its first season earlier this year.

The result: After generating viewership of nearly 5 million, the show is back for a second season but with a new partner, job-search site Monster.com. Honda is back for season three.


Monster signed on for the second season of 'Cube Fabulous' and took a more hands-on approach creatively with the online reality-makeover show.



Sears and Ford help create extreme home makeovers. Honda and Monster.com have been overhauling office cubicles.

The brands have backed "Cube Fabulous," an Internet-based reality series in which two hosts help ordinary office workers redecorate their cubicles to reflect their personal styles or turn workspaces into getaways such as a beach retreat, aquarium or ski chalet.

The first six episodes of the series launched May 15 and ran through August, airing in seven-minute segments. It was created and produced by Shorn Entertainment and sold to New York-based Broadband Enterprises, which syndicates video programming to a network of websites.

Pre-roll ads and a branded player

For the first go-around, producers landed American Honda Motor Co. as a promotional partner, integrating Honda's sporty Fit hatchback into the show. The automaker also ran five-second spots before each episode. As part of the deal, Honda promoted the Fit via banner ads. Episodes of "Cube Fabulous" also aired on a Honda-branded video player.

Honda's involvement funded the $600,000 production budget for the first season.

The series quickly found an audience -- a big one: More than 4.5 million unique viewers watched the series' initial run, said Matt Wasserlauf, president-CEO of Broadband Enterprises, citing numbers from Double Click, which tracked Honda's ad campaign around the show. The series generated 10 million streams in the first three episodes. And 60% of its overall viewers watched at least half of the series' episodes.

The show was able to generate those high numbers because it is syndicated by Broadband Enterprises to a number of highly trafficked websites, including WindowsMedia.com, Lycos.com and iFilm.com. Honda chose the 20 sites it wanted the show to appear on, said Bryon Evje, chief operating officer of Broadband Enterprises.

Delivered its media commitment

Honda "was guaranteed a certain media delivery for their commitment," Mr. Evje said. "We delivered 90% of the commitment in the first six weeks." Executives declined to disclose just how much Honda spent in marketing around the project.

For season two, which debuted in October, producers went to a more workplace-centric brand in online job site Monster.com. Deal points are similar to what Honda negotiated with the company, with Monster advertising before and around episodes, while also being integrated into the plot.

However, given that the company is a career-based service, Monster is taking a more hands-on approach with the show creatively, Mr. Evje said, including having a Monster executive appear in the show.

"They're a better fit for the show from a brand perspective, but they've also played a more hands-on role," Mr. Evje said. "They're deeply integrated into the show."

Monster's greater involvement

With its greater involvement, Monster is promoting the show through traditional TV spots. The series can also be seen on Monster's website (cubefabulous.monster.com). Additionally, Monster is hosting the "Cube Casting Couch," where office workers can apply to appear in a future episode and have their cubicles redone. Monster also sponsored a "Tech Fabulous Office Makeover Contest," providing five winners with a $2,500 prize package that included a Hewlett-Packard notebook computer and color printer, a BlackBerry, a foot massager, and a mini fridge.

"Monster made a sizable commitment offline," Mr. Evje said. "They have a level of brand equity in the show that Honda didn't have and are extending the show's reach offline."

Monster was interested in sponsoring the show not only because of its subject matter but also the audience it has been able to reach, namely 21- to 34-year-olds.

"Our relationship with 'Cube Fabulous' represents Monster's entry into broadband video, allowing us to reach a large audience and key demographics with creative work-related programming," said Diana Nicholson, senior VP-consumer products, Monster.com.

Honda doubles its ad spending

Honda is set to return for the show's third season, Mr. Evje said, adding that the company has doubled its ad spending around the show for next year. It's not entirely absent from season two; the company's Fit still appears in the episodes.

And Broadband is negotiating with marketers around another web series, "Anatomy of a Socially Awkward Situation," that will hit the web during the second quarter of 2007. The series revolves around humorous analysis of socially awkward moments and how they could have been prevented.
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