FISH BELLY UP TO THE BAR TO PROMOTE BASEBALL ON FOX: WEB ANIMATION SWIMS TO MEDIA MAINSTREAM

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Fox sports network is airing a promotional campaign for Major League Baseball through October that features creative originally developed for the Internet, marking what may be the first national television ad campaign to feature Web animation.

Honkworm International, Seattle, an online creative studio, produced 130, 30-second spots for Fox, each of which features Honkworm's signature Fishbar characters. Originally developed and aired on the Web as so-called Webisodes, the animation moves at a rate of eight frames per second compared to the traditional 24 frames, which gives the image a rough texture.

REAL BASEBALL PLAYERS

Using Monty Python-type humor and wacky animation, the two-fish-at-a-bar characters mix with real baseball players.

"This campaign works for us on many levels," said Kurt Schneider, VP-marketing, Fox Sports Net. "We found we could do a lot more with this technique than we could accomplish otherwise. We did one campaign that we could customize for 13 different baseball teams, complete with announcers, voice-overs, logos, caps, uniforms, backgrounds."

Working with Fox agency WongDoody, Santa Monica, Calif., Honkworm turned the Fishbar Webisodes into 13 master spots, which were customized for specific markets and teams.

"We were looking for a new animation technique that could be distinctive, and that also could be flexible enough for the scope of the campaign we were putting together," said Ben Wiener, managing partner, WongDoody.

CAMPAIGN COST ABOUT $500,000

Fox's Fishbar campaign, produced for about $500,000, features Honkworm's animation technique that uses Macromedia's Flash streaming technology.

"It was the quirky animation that captured the imagination of Fox," said Dan Pepper, Honkworm chief operating officer. "It's also an opportunity for us to bridge the gap between traditional broadcast advertising and Web content and production" while being able to "grab a Web audience who only clicks on what they really want to watch."

Honkworm has licensed its content -- where message, commerce and entertainment unite -- to clients including Budweiser, Excite@Home, Gibson Greetings, Lucent

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