FX Gets Into Upfront Game — Literally


FX Networks has given its upfront sales presentation the look of video-game animation, in a bid to stand out among basic-cable networks vying for attention and ad dollars.

A departure from its former Power Point pitch, the look — developed by WildTangent — plays off FX's marketing theme line, "Rewriting the rules. Changing the game."

Fox Cable Entertainment executive vice president of ad sales Bruce Lefkowitz said the new approach "reinforces our notion that clients can't be stuck to the old rules and perceptions of cable buying. We hope that the unique concept and technology we developed with WildTangent will help us break through the clutter."

WildTangent also created a separate, three-dimensional animated online game for the programmer's newest primetime series, Lucky, starring John Corbett.

When the upfront pitch opens, viewers enter the FX Networks studio lot.

After passing a large FX sign and a billboard with the network's theme copy, they see another billboard atop a studio building that depicts Michael Chiklis and the rest of the cast of The Shield, and congratulates them on the series' recent Golden Globe award.

Viewers then enter the Lucky
casino environment, with Corbett's character at a blackjack table.

The screen then pans across various posters for movies due on FX in the season ahead, such as Shallow Hal, The Animal, The One, Joy Ride
and Don't Say a Word.

Bits of program information, ratings and video clips are also included in the 40-minute presentation.

Executive vice president of sales and marketing Dave Madden said WildTangent has divided the online Lucky role-playing game into casino and adventure modes in which viewers can choose to be "Lucky" Linkletter (the title character) or one of his two buddies, as they try to win $50,000 in a half-hour.

FX plans to drive viewers to this online game — to be made available for online play or a free download at fxnetworks.com — via promotional spots. In addition, Madden said, the game will be pushed to 3.5 million users of WildTangent's own Web "game channel."