NEW YORK -- Watching "The Fabulous Life," a show on VH1 detailing the gaudy and outlandish expenditures of today's celebrities, always raises at least three questions. The first and most obvious: Why do they waste their money on such ridiculous nonsense? The second and most frustrating: Why can't I change the channel? And third: Who thinks this stuff up?
Avi Savar Gets Fired Up for New Agency
Producer of VH1 Hit Show Ready to Launch Big Fuel Communications
The first two may never be answered, but the correct answer to the final question is Avi Savar, the man responsible for producing the show.
Evolved into full-service shop
Mr. Savar, who created the show when he was working at VH1, will be launching an agency, Big Fuel Communications, in the coming weeks. The agency, formerly known as Savar Media, actually started as a broadcast-entertainment production company four years ago. Mr. Savar said he decided to re-brand the company late last year after watching it evolve from an entertainment and media company into a full-service agency capable of producing and distributing branded content and entertainment.
"Very quickly we learned that the knowledge and expertise we had gained had substantial value," Mr. Savar said. "We took that as the next step to growing our business. Along the way we have learned a lot about how to distribute content online, what works and what doesn't."
The agency is split into three components: agency, studio and network. "The Big Fuel Agency is where the ideas are born," Mr. Savar said. "Big Fuel Studios is the execution arm. And the network handles the distribution, media buying, syndication and partnership-development side of things."
One of its most recent campaigns was an eight-episode reality-show-type series for Neutrogena called "One Less Stress." The series, which ran on MyYearbook.com, Gurl.com, YouTube, Amp'd Mobile, iHigh.com and Seventeen magazine's website, is designed to promote the brand's new line of skin-care products fittingly called One Less Stress.
National campaign for MySpace
In early March, Fuel will launch MySpace's first national campaign, entitled "A New Dialogue." The effort is not only a first for MySpace but for Big Fuel as well. "This one is a little out of our comfort zone because we do things that skew a lot younger and this effort is geared toward parents," Mr. Savar said.
The premise of the campaign is to get parents to talk about internet safety by modernizing the dialogue they began having with their kids years ago about things such as crossing the street or wearing a seatbelt in the car. "We wanted to make the distinction between those everyday learnings they offer children and bring the concept of internet safety into that same dialogue," Mr. Savar said.
The initiative will include a 30-second spot, web content and a print component. The print efforts will be very focused and run in cities in North Carolina and Connecticut, where MySpace has come under fire from local state attorney generals. TV spots will run nationally on all Fox affiliates.
Because of media fragmentation, Mr. Savar sees more potential in the TV and online spaces than he does in movies.
"There's a lot of opportunity, and a lot of the traditional broadcasters are scared of all the fragmentation," he said. "We love it. The more fragmented the market gets, the easier it is for us to target. We can then take our clients' goals and objectives and break them down by each vertical or niche, so the more the market gets fragmented, the better off we are as an agency."
Fuel's current list of clients include MySpace, Fox Interactive Media, James Ray International, Cond? Nast, Rodale, VH1, Terra Networks, America Online, NBC Universal and Money Media, a division of The London Financial Times.
Big Fuel has offices in New York and Los Angeles. There are currently 17 employees, but Mr. Savar expects that number to grow to 30 by the end of the year.
~ ~ ~
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Mr. Savar as the creator of "The Fabulous Life." While at VH1, he helped develop and produced the series.