NEW YORK Castrol GTX is teaming with young men's site Break.com for the motor oil brand's first foray into online branded content.
Break Media has produced seven episodes of "Urban Car Legends," a series of three-minute videos that examines popular auto myths, such as whether the banana-in-the-tailpipe trick really works. Another examines whether it's possible to hotwire a car in a minute. The series debuts this week on a Castrol-branded section on Break.com (www.break.com/castrol).
The series was developed by Break's editorial team in conjunction with Castrol and media agency Mindshare, part of the WPP Group. It will air once a month through October. It includes product integration and a post-roll ad. Break will drive viewers to the episodes with a poll on its homepage testing users' auto IQs.
"It's about educating consumers about our sludge messaging in a way that's relevant to them," said Amy Vierzchalek, advertising manager with BP Products, the parent company of Castrol. "They can really associate with and see themselves using the product."
"Urban Car Legends" is one of several attempts to reach a young male audience through branded content. For some marketers, the wiser path is to go straight to media companies with a proven track record of creating content that appeals to that demographic. Break has executed programs with advertisers like Cheetos. CollegeHumor.com, another site catering to the college-age crowd, has done similar content initiatives with brands like Kraft.
Another advantage companies like Break and College Humor bring to the table that agencies don't: guaranteed reach. Break's site attracted 1.9 million U.S. visitors last month, according to comScore, and its network of partner sites brings its reach to 15 million.
"We have the distribution," said Jon Small, editorial director at Break. "[Agencies] can build a site but how are they going to get people to go to that site?"
Break hopes its focus on original and branded content will lure brand advertisers put off by the user-created videos that make up the majority of its videos. Many of the user-submitted clips on Break contain content that would give most brands pause. Its most-viewed videos currently include a passed-out girl in her underwear falling off a table, a man getting hit by a car and footage of police subduing a suspect with a Taser.
While the branded content offers Castrol a chance at tapping Break's large audience without associating with questionable material, it is not without risks. The struggle, according to Vierzchalek, is familiar for brands hoping to underwrite content: how to do so in a way that doesn't turn off the audience.
In one episode, Castrol's benefits against engine "sludge" are examined by showing a running race where one participant drinks water and the other milkshakes.
"You become well-versed in the demographic," Small said. "We understand what works."