Madison & Vine: Coke tries TiVo music showcase

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Coca-Cola Co.'s first foray into long-form branded entertainment is set for Oct. 9 when it launches "Sound Check," a showcase of exclusive video and music content on the TiVo system.

"Coca-Cola is always looking to explore new ways to integrate our brand into programming in organic and relevant ways. This opportunity allows us to team our brand up with the Universal Music Group and their artists, in a way that provides TiVo viewers exclusive content," said Geoff Cottrill, group director-music, Coca-Cola North America.

"Sound Check" will feature 25 minutes of interviews, music videos, behind-the-scenes footage, recording sessions and live performances from Geffen, Interscope and A&M recording artists Ashanti, Sting, Mary J. Blige and Leona Ness.

For access to "Sound Check," Coke TV spots will be tagged to enable TiVo subscribers who see them to click on an icon that allows them to download the program, or viewers can get it through a trailer on the TiVo Central screen. Subscribers who choose "Sound Check" will see it scheduled adjacent to other programming they've chosen in TiVo's "Now Playing" section, an area that has no advertising, according to Kimber Sterling, TiVo's director-advertising and research sales.

Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann Interactive, New York, Coke's interactive media agency, handled the media buying and planning; Interscope handled production. WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, New York, first worked with Universal Music Group on its Coca-Cola Classic Real campaign.

TiVo, with 703,000 subscribers as of its second quarter, projects 1 million by year-end. The company has re-signed showcase advertisers PBS, Universal Studios, American Honda Motor Co.'s Acura, Fox Cable's FX and has attracted new ones including Fox Network, Dell and Pioneer Electronics. Mr. Sterling said TiVo scrapped its rate card and that fourth-quarter showcases on the network are selling for up to $100,000 apiece. Coke and TiVo declined to comment on "Sound Check" rates and production costs.

TiVo also this week bows a direct-marketing effort with a 20-minute DVD featuring testimonials from subscribers and celebrity fans such as Shari Belafonte and Neil Patrick Harris. Produced by Uncle, Santa Monica, Calif., the marketing film is being distributed via direct mail and retailers including Best Buy and Circuit City, along with a coupon for 10% off any TiVo product. The DVD, the production costs for which are estimated at $1 million, is expected to reach prospective subscribers in the next few weeks.

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