Your Ads Are on TV -- Why Not You?

In Oxygen Reality Show, Creatives Battle to Build Female-Friendly Campaigns

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NEW YORK -- Are you an ad creative who thought "What Women Want" got you all wrong but secretly fantasizes about being on "Project Runway"? Oxygen has just the show for you.

Aaron Meyerson, Oxygen's senior VP-development and production, and Cynthia Ashworth, the network's senior VP-marketing

Beginning this week, the women's cable network is holding auditions in Los Angeles for "Adfight," a reality series that pits 10 two-person teams against each other as they try to concoct the best femme-friendly campaign for a brand that may not otherwise appeal to women.

Office Max, for example, is already on board as the premiere participating brand, with the idea that a rotating lineup would be introduced should the show get picked up, said Aaron Meyerson, Oxygen's senior VP-development and production.

'A real assignment'
"It's a major advertising brand each episode -- whether it's a 30-second spot, it could be print, outdoor" or a public-service announcement, Mr. Meyerson said. "It's a real assignment they're trying to do with real creative teams competing for the best solution. What makes it really interesting to Oxygen is it's about what women want. So the brands are going to be looking to solve that business issue, which is, how do we appeal to women?"

Mr. Meyerson added that the participating brands will not be limited to one agency, and that the casting call for contestants as well as judges is open to all creatives across the country. The filming location has yet to be determined, but it will likely be Los Angeles, he said.

Such a brand-friendly show could only be the work of Reveille Productions, aka the company founded by new NBC Entertainment co-Chairman Ben Silverman. But it likely helped that Oxygen's senior VP-marketing, Cynthia Ashworth, is an ad-industry vet (she was a former creative at JWT and Ogilvy).

Targeting an important consumer group
"This is a great concept for a show because women buy 83% of all consumer goods," Ms. Ashworth said. "Women are this incredibly important consumer group that not all advertisers have given its due in terms of targeting. This is an opportunity to open the minds of some brand managers to maybe ways they haven't thought of to drive their business."

Mr. Meyerson added that the career of a young creative is a "very aspirational profession" for the Oxygen audience.

Once production of the show gets under way (Mr. Meyerson said that will likely be at the end of the year), the program could air shortly thereafter, making a first-quarter 2008 premiere entirely plausible. The show has been in development at Oxygen for nearly a year, and was even mentioned during the network's upfront presentation in January.
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