Announced today, Firebrand (firebrandtv.com) has some lofty ambitions. It wants to do for advertising what YouTube did for cutout gift boxes, or what MTV did for hair metal in the 80′s. By creating a dedicated portal for funny, sexy, action-packed ads and movie trailers, it’s thought that — soon after it launches on October 22nd — Gen Y-ers will converge on Firebrand for promotional offers, pure entertainment, or, hopefully, to buy stuff.
They claim to be, “QVC for the MySpace generation.”
Now, before you gag, consider that they might be onto something. This isn’t just another startup. Firebrand is backed by Microsoft, NBC Universal, GE’s Peacock Equity fund, Adweek, Brandweek, Mediaweek, and the ION television network.
Pardon me while I quote the press release at length:
“Firebrand enters the media landscape as the era of the commercial interruption is coming to an end,” says John A. Lack, CEO/Co-Founder. “We curate the best TV commercials and promotions from around the world – connecting consumers directly with their favorite brands in an integrated environment.”
“On Firebrand, you’ll see more car chases, explosions, gags, drama, heroes, Oscar-winning actors, directors and producers in an hour than in a month of HBO,” says [Chief Creative Officer/Co-Founder Román] Viñoly. “To be true to our consumers, you can’t pay us to air a bad spot. ”
Meanwhile, Steve Hall from Adrants sounds off:
We tried really hard not to laugh when . . . Roman Vinoly said, “We program TV spots like a DJ spins music in a club. There is a rhythm and flow to it.” In an attempt to spin Firebrand as something other than a massive database of commercials, Vinoly adds, “On Firebrand, you’ll see more car chases, explosions, gags, drama, heroes, Oscar-winning actors, directors and producers in an hour than in a month of HBO.” Right, dude. They’re still [f@%!^g] commercials. Not The Sopranos.
Hyperbole aside, it sounds like the ad industry’s collective Wet 2.0 dream, does it not?
Experience Curve‘s Karl Long reminds us that the first step is a doozy:
If they create original, edgy, hysterical, and brilliant commercials for it then they have a shot. I think it’s more likely they are going to recycle their 30 second spots that less people are watching every year in which case they will go the same way as BudTV. They have some great investors behind them . . . and advertisers like BMW, Coke, Ebay etc. yet the internet is famous for burning through enormous amounts of money on “big bang” efforts like this. If they don’t get it right out of the gate it will be a losing battle.
But that’s where the “so-crazy-it-just-might-work” factor comes into play. Think about it: They’ll suddenly need tons of content. Where will it all come from? With Firebrand claiming editorial integrity, it could be a chance for smaller brands to shine. Big-budget brands will dump money on it regardless, but creativity could be a currency of its own.
Gniwisch is measuring the success of his efforts in the number of views Ice.com’s videos have received on YouTube.com – about 50,000 altogether — in the 6,000 YouTubers who signed up for an Ice.com sweepstakes promoted with one video series release, and the 16,000 who have signed up for “Pinny’s World,” asking to be notified whenever Ice.com puts up new video on YouTube.
“If I can get enough people to watch my channel, I can eventually throw a product video that is both entertaining and ROI-driven into the mix,” figures Gniwisch. “As more people register to your channel, your ability to succeed as an ROI-based investment is more likely.”
If a company like Ice.com can submit content to Firebrand, it could be something bigger than the next go-to spot for Super Bowl ads.
Firebrand has offered us a sneak preview in the coming weeks, so we’ll let you know what we think soon enough.
[GrokDotCom interviewed Pinny about his adventures on YouTube. To hear how how he did it, listen to the podcast.]