Amalgamated Casts Fuse as Music Maverick

NEW YORK Independent agency Amalgamated breaks a new print campaign for Fuse, the upstart competitor to MTV, positioning the cable channel as the “outsider” destination for music videos, the client said.

Amalgamated, Fuse’s New York ad agency, launched the music channel’s first major TV campaign on Aug. 4 spoofing MTV’s Beach House show.

The new work breaks Nov. 3 and continues to position Fuse as an irreverent outsider in the world of music television but serious about emphasizing music. The print and outdoor campaign features such “anti” celebrities as porn actress Robin Byrd, ex-televangelist Tammy Faye and Sy Sperling, founder of the Hair Club for Men.

Each ad presents copy specific to its featured personality. For example, text in Faye’s ad states: “I’ve seen the light. It was on TV and it has music videos on it. Fuse #1 with Tammy, who is #3 with drag queens.” A line in Byrd’s ad: “When I watch music videos on Fuse, my remote always ends up in the oddest places.” Copy in Sperling’s ad: “The only thing better than a club about hair is watching music videos on Fuse. Fuse looks natural even when wet.”

Four TV spots, also from Amalgamated, are scheduled to break Nov. 17 on DirectTV and EchoStar, as well as on cable in Boston, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles and Cleveland. That work is a spoof of PSAs that target teens.

In a statement, Fuse president Marc Juris said: “The campaigns are further embodiments of Fuse’s outsider sensibility. Everything we do is designed to appeal to independent music thinkers, young people who have a very sarcastic view of traditional corporate culture and media, the kind of irreverence that comes through in everything from South Park to Vice magazine. When someone like Sy Sperling speaks, not about fake hair but real music, we play with an offbeat icon to get your attention. This campaign will really cut through the clutter and have music lovers flipping their proverbial wigs.”

Fuse ranks a distant third behind MTV and MTV2 in the number of U.S. households it reaches, with just more than 30 million, according to Nielsen Media Research. By contrast, MTV is in approximately 85 million households, while MTV2 reaches nearly 50 million.

Media spending for this latest effort was undisclosed, but according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, MTV spent $10 million on media in 2002, while Fuse and MTV2 spent less than $1 million. J.L. Media in Union, N.J., handles media for Fuse.

David Carson directed the TV spots in conjunction with New York production house Team Heavy.

Fuse is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision.