New-York based on-line content developer cum ad agency cum prodco Marcis Interactive has teamed up with Pitaru Design to launch Rebus7, a weekly Webisode series to be funded entirely through advertising. The site (http://www.REBus7.com) launches in Q1 2000 and is geared to young teens ages 11 to 16. The hybrid company has created netmercials in the past, including a commercial for Ikea in June.
An adventure series centering around five kids whose dreams affect reality, Rebus7 will be rendered in a TV format, with full-screen animation. ‘It incorporates elements of TV with interactivity,’ says Marcis founder Jeff Cannon. The site allows viewers to participate in each episode through e-mail.
Espousing a financial model that hearkens back to the early days of TV, Marcis is shopping for six sponsors to kick in US$250,000 a piece to back a year’s worth of episodes-each of which costs roughly US$25,000 to produce. At press time, the cyberco was hammering out deals with Coca-Cola, Macromedia and Frito-Lay. Sponsorship agreements will include product placement, e-mail ads and 10- to 20-second Flash-animated commercials on the site.
‘For the price of production of one TV commercial, you can get six to nine months of advertising,’ Cannon says. ‘We’re getting away from the whole banner ad paradigm. Doing banner ads is like running print on television,’ he says. But at the same time, Cannon is relying on a tried-and-true ad strategy. ‘We’re going back to the `40s and `50s style of TV, when it was all sponsored by advertising. Kids are savvy,’ he explains. ‘Instead of trying to hide it, say these people are the ones bringing you this show.’
MI will get the word out about Rebus7 via a series of print and radio ads that will run across the U.S., as well as through an on-line campaign that will include banner ads, cross links and sponsorships to coincide with the Web site launch.