While marketers covet Generation Y dollars, the teen demographic has proven elusive and fickle, especially since teens will often reject pre-fabricated ad messages.
In an effort to convey both hipness and youthful irreverence, Arizona Jean Company--JCPenney's exclusive billion-dollar denim jeans, casual apparel and accessories brand--last week began an online promotion with tongue-in-cheek interactive game show Thunk!, a creation of Pseudo, a New York-based Web entertainment network.
"It's definitely a good placement for us," said Fred Fritschi, Arizona's corporate brand manager. "The show's mix of teen and young adult audience, we believe, is the right mix for us."
Instead of simple banner ad buys, Arizona's line of goods have been integrated throughout the Thunk! program, a weekly animated series that features live voice-overs from in-studio actors and contestants. Thunk! is a part of Pseudo's All Games channel.
As part of the sponsorship, Thunk! characters wear and talk about Arizona products throughout the half-hour program. Additionally, three 30 second spots, part of Arizona's "At Least Part of You is Comfortable" TV campaign, will run during Thunk!, as well as on other programs on the All Games channel.
"We're up to over 50 shows that we're doing on a weekly basis," said Pseudo CEO Larry Lux. "We've had other shows sponsored by other advertisers, but this is a first for Thunk!"
The topics of Pseudo's shows range from pro wrestling to poetry. Recent sponsorships for other Pseudo programs include Omega watches and Arizona competitor Levi Strauss & Co. Interactive pop-up modules will run throughout the All Games channel, allowing users to enter a jeans giveaway area, play various online games and browse an online catalog.
Reaching back-to-school Gen Y in this way was an out of-the-box approach, according to Michael J. Konowicz, online media strategist at MarketSource, Arizona's interactive shop.
"I met with Pseudo months ago and Thunk! caught my eye. I saw the opportunity for product placement," said Konowicz. "In addition to running the traditional TV spots, we felt this was a perfect fit for the jeans company."
"We don't mention the clothes that much in the TV commercials," added Fritschi. "The whole idea is not to sell. It's total imaging. With the Thunk! sponsorship, we're trying to associate the product with fun and irreverence. It's the right place at the right time."
The Arizona/Thunk! partnership will last through November.