Ultimate TV Changes Channels

A TV campaign from FCB for the $50 million launch of Microsoft’s Ultimate TV was scrapped and replaced with spots that broke last week from Rodgers Townsend, the company said.

The $60 million St. Louis shop benefited from a delay in the rollout of the product, which is expected to compete with TiVo, ReplayTV and other digital video recording devices. Ultimate TV was expected to be available over the holidays, with backing from an FCB campaign that was shot last year.

Rodgers Townsend had been doing branding work for the client, and pitched a TV campaign during the delay. That campaign was embraced by client executives at the expense of FCB’s work.

FCB “did handle it, but we saw a creative idea from Rodgers Townsend that we thought was really impactful,” said Beth Kachellek, director of advertising and brand management for the Mountain View, Calif., division of Microsoft.

Although its TV work got bounced, FCB San Francisco remains lead agency for Ultimate TV, Kachellek said. FCB continues to handle print and media planning for the product, accord ing to Kachellek. Lead Microsoft agency McCann-Erickson is the division’s media buyer.

Rodgers Townsend won the assignment because the agency is well known to Ultimate TV executives Kachellek and Bill Morgan, who both formerly worked at agency client SBC Communications. That led to the branding assignments and ultimately the campaign that broke last week.

The spots “incorporate the product demo with a real-life situation,” Kachellek said. “What we found is it’s not just what the product does.”

In each of the five spots the screen is divided into four. One has a couple getting ready to go out from different angles. A man programs his Ulti mate TV to record “Survivor” while they’re gone, the woman does the same for “Friends.” The two shows are on at the same time, a voiceover points out. “Only with Ultimate TV, watch what you can do,” the voiceover says.

The other spots will highlight various features of Ultimate TV, including its ability to pause and rewind live TV and store up to 35 hours of programs.

Agency officials declined to talk about the campaign, referring calls to the client.