Fossil No Relic On MTV Asia

Dallas fashion brand makes youth play

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%%STORYIMAGE_LEFT%% Viacom's MTV Networks has signed Fossil, a Dallas-based marketer of accessories and apparel, as the main sponsor of "Rouge," its first TV series created specifically for Asia.

The show will feature five young women who are rock stars by day and secret agents by night, appealing to Asian youth's love of action films and martial arts.

Fossil manufactures and markets watches, handbags, jewelry and sunglasses under its own name and for brands such as Frank Gehry and Diesel.

The value of the sponsorship deal was not disclosed, but Mark Parker, Fossil's senior VP, Asia, based in Hong Kong, calls it "substantial but cost-effective for a unique and creative project."

The package includes product placement, sponsorship titles in opening and closing sequences, TV spots during the program and inclusion in on-air promotion and tune-in spots on MTV Asia and possibly Viacom's Nickelodeon channel. Sponsorship will stretch to in-store marketing and Web promotions as well.

"Our demographics match those of MTV, so there are great synergies as Fossil tries to build its business in Asia/Pacific. We chose 'Rouge' to do something different, to show we not only do watches, we do other accessories and apparel," he added.

The Fossil deal does not include equity in the content or involvement in the show's creative direction and storyline. "In no way have we positioned 'Rouge' as product placement a la 'The Truman Show,'" said Singapore-based Chris Steward, MTV's senior VP-advertising sales, Asia, a reference to the 1998 film starring Jim Carrey about an insurance salesman who discovers his entire life is a TV show with blatant endorsements.

%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% "Our demographics, 15-to-34 year-olds, are, relatively speaking, cutting-edge, affluent young adults and direct obvious product placement just doesn't work with them," Steward added.

Parker agrees, "It's not necessary for us to be artificially driving the story lines, we want the ability to do product placement in a natural manner."

Fossil time pieces will be featured when the agents need to synchronize their watches. Its clothes, ranging from hip grunge-style gear to high fashion, will be distinctly portrayed when they go undercover.

"Rouge" will be syndicated on terrestrial stations around the region about six months after the series debuts on MTV's Southeast Asian feed this October. Its production costs, topping $1.2 million, are financed by MTV, Singapore-based Mega Media and the Media Development Authority of Singapore, a government office promoting local production initiatives.

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