TWC Mashes Up Fake Celebs

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Sex! Drugs! Reliable phone service!

Time Warner Cable is letting Internet users star in a celebrity tabloid TV segment of their own devising, in a viral-video campaign to promote the operator's triple play.

The Fame Star! site (myfamestar.com) lets visitors upload their own photos and create a one-minute mock celebrity exposé.

Users type in their name, choose their gender, pick a story arc with varying levels of success, scandal and tragedy, and select whether their character is based in New York, Los Angeles or Dallas. The resulting “biopic” can then be shared with friends or posted to a social-networking site.

Each video clip is prefaced by a 20-second ad promoting Time Warner Cable's video, phone and Road Runner broadband services. The Fame Star! site also includes a link to TWC's competitive marketing comparison with Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse and satellite providers.

“The marketplace is becoming ever-more competitive,” said Lisa Stockmon, vice president of corporate marketing for Time Warner Cable. “This is something that's an entertaining — and maybe unexpected — way to spread the word about Time Warner's products and services.”

Stockmon said the campaign was patterned after the “pop-culture intrusion” of other successful mashup-video sites, such as OfficeMax's ElfYourself.com, which lets visitors paste their own photos on dancing Christmas elves.

Ad agency Ogilvy New York, which also created Time Warner Cable's branding campaign, came up with the Fame Star! concept. The agency produced the site with New York-based technology provider Oddcast.

Time Warner Cable said it will promote Fame Star! through its own Web sites, social media sites and other online properties. The site is also referenced in TWC TV spots running in all its markets.

Fame Star! will run through the end of the year and could be extended further, Stockmon said. “We can update it based on the economy and what happens with the elections,” she said. “We have a lot of flexibility in what we can do with it.”

A jokey disclaimer statement on the site says it is “best viewed using Road Runner High-Speed Online. Neither Time Warner Cable nor its subsidiaries can be held responsible for any hair-pulling, fist-banging or name-calling caused by painfully slow DSL connections.”

As for how TWC will prevent the site from being abused, Stockmon said Fame Star! is being monitored by staff members and offensive words are automatically prevented from being inserted into the videos.

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