Fossil goes covert in MTV spy show

By Published on .

When the sexy secret agents synchronize their watches in the evening, they'll be Fossils. And when the same five young women are at their day jobs as rock stars, they'll wear grunge-style gear-courtesy of Fossil.

That's part of a wide-ranging sponsorship deal struck by Viacom's MTV Networks and the Dallas-based marketer of accessories and apparel for "Rouge," MTV's first TV series created specifically for Asia. The show will feature a quintuplet who are rock stars by day and secret agents by night, appealing to Asian youth's love of action films and martial arts.

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 such as posters of "Rouge" agents wearing products from Fossil, which markets watches, handbags, jewelry and sunglasses under its own name and for brands such as Philippe Starck and Diesel. Contests and promotions based on Web and mobile-phone marketing, and events are also components of the pact.

`something different'

The value of the 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."

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

The Fossil deal does not include equity in the content or involvement in the show's creative direction and story line. "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.

"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," Mr. Steward added.

Representing MTV's distribution as well as Southeast Asia's ethnic diversity, the show's five rock star secret agents are from the Philippines, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam, with a team-operations leader from Singapore. In the Asia/Pacific region, Fossil has stores in Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and Australia.

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