Why Foster's Hooked Up with Heavy.com

Customized Dating Game Pitched to Miller Shop as Part of Website's 'Upfront'

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"American women, beware, as the sheilas have come to take away your men!"

Heavy.com and Miller Brewing Co.'s Foster's Lager are issuing that battle cry for a dating game the site is casting as a model for marketer partnerships. Created to launch MyHeavy, Heavy.com's video-sharing site, the game is sponsored exclusively by Foster's in a bid to relaunch the ailing Australian beer in the U.S. (see story, above). The customized deal is a result of the "upfront" conducted by Heavy for the first time ever this year.

"A partnership like this isn't about impressions," said Heavy co-CEO David Carson. "We take time to get to know a brand and then incorporate their message into the production process, which raises awareness dramatically." Co-CEO Simon Assaad said Heavy.com worked with Foster's agency, WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather and Publicis Groupe's Starcom to create the game.

For three weeks beginning Aug. 16, visitors to Heavy.com can watch pre-produced videos of 10 sheilas talking about themselves in the style of the classic "Dating Game" TV show. Viewers vote for the women they like best. Then, for an additional two weeks, viewers will be sent personal questions via text message, ostensibly from the women. One lucky lad will win a trip to Vegas to meet the most popular women.

Ogilvy also created a batch of homemade-looking videos it plans to circulate on MyHeavy and other video-sharing sites in hopes they will catch on virally.

Heavy will increase production of its original programming tenfold this year, to 600 segments. That's in addition to MyHeavy, a community for sharing user-generated and commercial video along with personal information. About a quarter of the site's revenue comes from such customized content, Mr. Assaad said, while the loud graphic ad that dominates a good portion of the site accounts for about two-thirds of all its ad revenue.

Heavy expects ad revenue of about $20 million this year, up 300% from 2005. It recently secured an international distribution deal with ContentFilm to distribute Heavy's programming in all international markets except Australia and New Zealand. The three-year deal allows ContentFilm's subsidiary Fireworks International to provide Heavy's content to websites, video-on-demand services or TV networks.
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