Ford's Fiesta is the star of an upcoming Web series, ControlTV, a reality series where the twists and turns are crowdsourced.
The latest branded entertainment effort from from Digital Broadcasting Group, the series is directed by actor Seth Green (of Robot Chicken fame on Adult Swim).
ControlTV follows an L.A.-based 20-something male whose every (almost) move will be audience-determined 18 hours per day, dictating what he eats, wears, dates, works and travels. It's not a new idea — David Perez, a junior exec at Leo Burnett, attempted a similar feat at the recent Cannes advertising festival, though unsponsored.
As a result of DBS sponsorship deals, the ControlTV social media puppet will not only be driving a Ford Fiesta but also shown using a Nextel smartphone (hopefully not at the same time).
"ControlTV places the audience in complete control of a show for the first time ever, and we are eager to learn what they will decide for our protagonist," Green told Variety.
"We have embraced the notion of being our own Big Brother instead of some nefarious organization watching our every move. We'll create situations where our guy can succeed or fail and we'll give that decision to the voting community.”
The Fiesta is a natural for this kind of social treatment — its recent launch was built up a year in advance with the Ford Fiesta 100 Movement, a digital campaign that spanned social networks.
Ford's manager of brand content and alliances, Connie Fontaine, told Marketing Daily that the attraction for the brand was the innovative medium and format.
"This project is much more engaging with the viewer than traditional TV because, like the Sims video games, users help influence what happens next in the story line," she commented. "The Fiesta is part of the main character's everyday life so a lot of that engagement will be about how and where he uses his Fiesta.”
DBG COO Rick Kleczkowski told TechCrunch there will be plenty of "engagement elements" and viral social media components including viewers' ability to post to Facebook, and that "all of those elements — beyond merely time spent viewing content — are measured."
DBG's video ad network reaches over 2,500 portals and lifestyle Web sites, many targeting 18- to-34-year-olds. ControlTV Web content will be streamed live daily, followed by edited highlights streamed "to highly targeted audiences."
TechCrunch calls video ad networks such as DBG, Tremor and Break "the new power brokers in video," adding that brand marketers favor them "because they give them more control over where their ads are placed. And if they can have shows created for them on spec, so much the better. They are more than happy to pay premium rates.”
As for brands, handing control to anonymous Web surfers is an interesting twist on crowdsourcing, a topic gathering strong reactions in our latest brandchannel debate.