Style is experimenting with consumer-made cable commercials, created by fans of Ruby, the channel’s reality show.
The show, following the weight-loss struggle of 500-pound Ruby Gettinger, is attracting a large amount of online reaction, according to Suzanne Kolb, chief marketing officer of Style and E! At the same time, Style has been inquiring about a user-generated content technology which political campaigns have used to allow partisans to make their own low-cost cable-TV commercials.
The convergence of the two is the Ruby experiment, a partnership with SaysMe.TV. The latter company is funded by Intel Capital and Prime Capital, with participation by Aston Kutcher’s Katalyst Films and advertising pioneer Bill Apfelbaum, among others.
Ruby fans will be able to choose from between two 30-second ads. The first, Root for Ruby, cheers Ruby on as she continues her battle to lose weight. The second, Ruby Inspires, talks about how Ruby has inspired viewers to make changes in their own lives and encourages them to work together to battle their own addiction “beast.”
Once the fan selects an ad version, it will be customized with the fan’s name. SaysMe.TV will place the ad at a time selected by the fan on a cable network. The ads are for TV only and not for Internet placement, Kolb said.
Kolb said this is an experiment, not a revenue-generating opportunity for the channel. In fact, Style is underwriting the spots so the fan cost will be about $25, the executive said. Style is more interested in testing whether viewers will respond to the opportunity to interact with a show of this sort.
'PIED PIPER’ DRAWING POWER
Style selected this show for the SaysMe.TV experiment because Ruby has proven herself to be sort of a “Pied Piper for people facing quiet obstacles,” Kolb said.
Ruby, which debuted Nov. 9, was Style’s highest-rated original premiere and has become the channel’s most-watched show.
Fans can make their ads at Mystyle.com. The series will conclude Jan. 4 and Kolb said no announcement has been made on a possible second season for the reality skein.