“Verge culture,” as in young, digital, influencers and brand-savvy hip youths, is poised for a social media guerilla takeover — if Karmaloop TV has anything to do with it.
An offshoot of the Karmaloop.com retail site, KarmaloopTV.com is an online video-based network that's vying for broadband and video-on-demand distribution in the US. It aims to be a full-blown 24-hour cable TV network, and is now pitching cable and telco TV operators that it can help them “reclaim” the 18-to-34 year old audience that lives online, on digital, on mobile and on social.
In a similar vein to Vice TV, it aims to offer an in-depth look (and insights) into global street culture. The website also features exclusive interviews with designers, brands, artists and musicians — musician/producer Pharrell Williams signed on as KarmaloopTV's creative director in May.
To promote the launch, it's leveraging the 4.5 million unique monthly visitors to Karmaloop.com, helping it attract a slew of users' video submissions during the web video channel's “Reclaim Your TV” launch campaign.
With KarmaloopTV, the Karmaloop brand is hoping to grow its reach and revenues. The “edge-pushing streetwear fashion” e-tailer (which sells more than 500 streetwear brands) reports $72 million in 2010 revenues with $130 million anticipated this year.
Founder Greg Selkoe is hoping to foster (and market) an active, engaged community where young people can cultivate and share ideas on what the future of television and media should be – one that also gives them the tools to be a part of that change. And, of course, shop.
Selkoe's pitch to cable operators is that Karmaloop has an inside track with the $100-billion-a-year urban youth demographic, "the first to be raised on the Internet – tuned in to television."
The Ivy Leaguer (with an MA in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School) started the Karmaloop website in his parents' basement, as he told CNBC in an interview that included Williams.
Williams' involvement no doubt helped Selkoe wrangle the Reclaim Your TV celebrity testimonials from some 75 “iKons,” including Diddy, Nicki Minaj, Keri Hilson, Travis McCoy, Shaun White, Shaquille O’Neal, Paul Rodriguez, Whitney Port, Bryan Greenberg and Cedric the Entertainer.
The bulk of the screens on its homepage feature a real-time feed of viral videos and tweets from fans voicing their opinions about why they want to “Reclaim TV” and have their local cable operator carry KarmaloopTV, in a campaign clearly influenced by the classic "I Want My MTV!" launch campaign.
The videos and tweets are voted on by fans who upload their favorites on YouTube and tweet with the hashtag #ReclaimYourTV, making them eligible for $3,500 in weekly prizes ($2,500 for the most popular video; $1,000 for the top tweet).
“We want to bring programming to young people that not only changes their mentality, but lifts it. They are waiting and we are going to deliver, by continuing to lead youth culture, not follow it,” says Williams.
The ReclaimYourTV.com campaign has 85,000 online ambassadors in the Karmaloop Rep Program, “brand evangelists” on Facebook, Twitter and other local and digital guerilla marketing channels that generate about 20% of those revenues. Other highlights from week one:
• 10 million people reached via social (on Twitter and Facebook) its Reclaim Your TV launch campaign
• Total votes received on all videos submitted: 53,800
• Number of votes received for winning video (by Navator): 26,200
• Total votes received for all Tweets submitted: 22,900
• Number of votes for winning Tweet (by Bianca Bryant / @ItsGlitzBytch): 3,013
The bigger question: can it maintain that momentum in week two and all the way to a 24-hour TV channel?