Music channel gone wild: Fuse bares all, saves money

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If you've been wondering what music channel Fuse and independent New York agency Amalgamated could possibly do to top the stir they've created by parodying Apple's iPod campaign or running confrontational billboards across from MTV's headquarters, here's your answer: uncensored nudity.

The first national broadcast effort for the challenger network-which reaches 36 million basic cable households-takes its cues from "Girls Gone Wild" with an infomercial-style spot featuring one man and three women punctuating their praise of Fuse by flashing the camera. On TV, the action is obscured by censor bars, but it's not on Fuse's "Totally Uncensored Advertisement" DVD, which-as the commercial promises-you can order via a toll-free number.

You really can. And it's really uncensored, featuring not only the uncut commercial, but other R-rated fare like outtakes and footage from casting sessions. At $29.99, it's not exactly priced to sell, but that's not the point. As Mary Corigliano, VP-marketing for Fuse told Advertising Age, "To be honest, I don't [care if people buy the DVD], but if people do buy it, that's great."

While the campaign may seem to be all about shock value-and the Federal Communications Commission-skirting distribution of an explicit DVD certainly pushes the envelope, particularly for a channel owned by a media conglomerate like Cablevision-Ms. Corigliano said the effort is really about media efficiency.

"This was not only creative from a material standpoint, it was also creative from a media standpoint," she said. By actually offering a product for sale, the network was able to purchase direct-response airtime. This cut the media budget in half-despite the fact that the commercial is a full 60 seconds-and allowed the network to reach the young night owls who are likely to be impressed by Fuse's self-styled "prankster chic" attitude.

affordable alternative

"We were able to have a really affordable television presence, using full-length messages and really targeted dayparts," she said. Ms. Corigliano, who would not disclose media spending, said the ad is set to run on national cable networks and on local cable systems in major markets. "The whole idea of this strategy is to continue to set us apart from other channels," she said. "One of the things I'm constantly charged with is creating breakthrough, nontraditional ways to promote ourselves."

As for the racy content, Amalgamated Creative Director Jason Gaboriau said that was driven by the media buy as well. If you're in the late night infomercial space, he said, you might as well try to blend in with "Girls Gone Wild" and other "too hot for TV" offerings. "To us, that's the whole trick," he said. "It all came out of the media, and the rest of it kind of fell into place."

"We needed to create a message and a piece of creative that was really going to break through the clutter and that was fun and entertaining and rebellious," added Ms. Corigliano. "And that's what this is."

Jim Hanas is editor of, part of The Ad Age Group.

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