Advertising Week

Justin Timberlake Talks MySpace for Three Minutes in Advertising Week Pitch

Presentation Guests Short on CMOs but Long on Influential Agency Execs

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Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake

Three months and $35 million later, the firm that took MySpace off News Corp.'s hands is doing its darnedest to convince the ad community that it can dust off the social-networking platform and make it relevant again.

The new owner, Specific Media, had hoped to woo advertisers with an invite-only event on the first day of Advertising Week -- the annual confab held in New York -- trotting out its famous investor, Justin Timberlake. And influential agency execs did turn out, so that 's progress. But even the presence of Timberlake, everyone's favorite boy-band sensation-turned-serious-Hollywood-actor, couldn't attract more than a few representatives from big marketers themselves, according to folks who attended, contrary to reports that as many as 55 CMOs and senior marketers were expected.

One top marketer who showed face was Jonathan Mildenhall from Coca-Cola, while agency leaders included MDC Partners' Chief Strategist Chuck Porter, Ogilvy & Mather New York CMO Lauren Crampsie and Interpublic Group of Cos' execs Mike Hughes and Thom Gruhler, who are president of the Martin Agency and CEO of McCann's New York office, respectively.

According to several people, there were no more than about 40 executives present Monday evening in an upstairs room at Radio City Music Hall. There Mr. Timberlake spoke for about three minutes, while Specific Media CEO Tim Vanderhook spoke for about 10 minutes. Their pitch turned out to be less about a new future for MySpace and more about returning to its roots.

Specific Media did not provide a comment by press time.

AllThingsD has posted a copy of a deck that MySpace is now using, which can be seen here. But far more interesting than anything contained in this deck -- which, like most decks, looks like a dry slideshow full of assertions (MySpace is "The Hulu of Music") -- is the story that Mr. Vanderhook and his new famous friend Mr. Timberlake emphatically told potential advertisers: that MySpace gave "voices to the unknown" and turned them into stars.

The crux of the pitch was about MySpace as a discovery engine for the music world, pointing out that it was responsible for unearthing artists like Katie Perry and Justin Bieber (wasn't that YouTube?). For this reason, advertisers should consider it a primary means of reaching young demographics, they said. Of course, strategy is just one part; the other is how MySpace will look and work for users. People who attended the VIP event said MySpace's new simplified look was pretty nice actually, and notably, said one person, it will look "less trashy."

That's a start, at least.

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