Why Marketers Stand to Win Big at MTV Movie Awards

Sprint, GM, Old Navy, Others Will Be Integrated Into Sunday's Live Ceremony

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NEW YORK -- There may never be a day where you hear the Academy Awards announcer boom, "Tonight's Best Picture brought to you by ..." But the MTV Movie Awards are another story.

Vanessa, the Orbit commercials' popular British mouth scientist, will appear on the red carpet during the Movie Awards pre-show.

In addition to a Sprint-sponsored live vote for the Best Movie Award, Old Navy, General Motors, Vitamin Water and Orbit gum are among a host of sponsors whose brands will be integrated into various parts of Sunday's show -- whether it's during the red carpet pre-show coverage, the commercial breaks or the awards themselves.

Event will be held live
The perennial summer ceremony (declared the year's most fun by Entertainment Weekly in 2000) goes live for the first time this weekend, so getting sponsors involved beyond the commercial break was key for its first non-pre-recorded venture. Having superstar producer Mark Burnett ("Survivor," "The Apprentice") at the helm helps, too, of course.

"The combination of those two things just affords us a lot more possibility. We can bring our partnerships to life a little bit differently," said Tim Rosta, MTV's director of integrated marketing. "Whether it's live or whether it's taped ... neither one's better from a marketing or brand partnership perspective. It really doesn't much matter in our world."

Mr. Rosta made an exception last fall, however, when MTV teamed up with JC Penney for a live commercial that aired during the Video Music Awards. Though the tricky spot went live without any dead air, the stunt won't be repeated again this weekend, Mr. Rosta said. Instead, Orbit will pre-record its announcement of the winner for its "Dirtiest Mouth Moment" award, which viewers have been voting for online for the past several weeks. As an added bonus for Anglophiles, "Vanessa," the Orbit commercials' popular British mouth scientist, will appear on the red carpet during the Movie Awards pre-show.

Elsewhere, Sprint is co-branding a 30-second voting promo spot for its Best Movie sponsorship, and offering users of the wireless carrier an exclusive 15-second preview of musical guest Amy Winehouse's "45th at Night" performance, which airs on MTV next week.

Plugging the 'Transformers'
And because it's the Movie Awards, longtime sponsor General Motors is amping up its involvement via exclusive footage from summer blockbuster-hopeful "Transformers."

"All of the cars that transform in the movie are GM models, and we'll give our audience an insider look at those cars throughout the show and in the pre-show on the red carpet," Mr. Rosta said.

Nearly all the participating advertisers have been online with their Movie Awards campaigns for several weeks now, something that even the big-tent TV events such as the Academy Awards and even the Super Bowl can't always claim. Given MTV's target demographic and the cross-channel nature of the programming, building that brand association online through paid search or other channels several weeks out is crucial to an effective event-based campaign, said Eric Obeck, president of SendTec, a direct-marketing firm based in St. Petersburg, Fla.

A cross-platform world
"If you have a reason for a consumer to engage with a 30-second spot, you need to initiate that engagement through search channels," Mr. Obeck said. And as a result of changing return-on-investment models in a cross-platform world, the importance of having brands become a keyword for their event partners is best reflected through the Movie Awards.

"Based on the [campaigns] I see [from MTV], the message is getting out. That might be a factor of the passage of time and people understanding how these channels relate better, but it could also be compounded by the demographic the MTV Movie Awards is targeting," Mr. Obeck said.

Mr. Obeck added he can only imagine how his own 13-year-old has been interacting with the show online already. "He's probably logged in some votes for movies I don't even know about."
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