"We're looking at it as a way to marry franchises with partners, taking advantage of the editorial clout that House of Style has and the timelessness that House of Style has," Rachel Baumgarten, svp of integrated marketing for Viacom Velocity Music Group, explained.
The eight-episode Web series, which is hosted by rapper Iggy Azalea and special correspondent singer Rita Ora this season, kicked off on Thursday on MTV.com. The classic show will also have a presence in this year's Video Music Awards through special House of Style commentary segments mixed in throughout the Aug. 24 broadcast. A 30-minute TV special on the best looks from the VMAs will follow on Aug. 26. Azalea and Ora will also be performing at this year's music awards.
Interspersed throughout this season will be product integrations for Unilever's Caress, Degree Women and TRESemmé brands. For example, the second episode focuses on Azalea's new music video, which involves dancing and martial arts choreography. It's also an opportune time to blend in Degree's sweat-preventing properties. In addition, TRESemmé will be featured in segments that show how to recreate fashion-forward hairstyles. Hashtags encouraging fans to #AmpUpYourStyle will also appear on every episode of the Web series.
"Our partnership with MTV and House of Style is an example of how we are inserting ourselves into moments that matter for the people that buy our brands and evolve our thinking from campaigns to conversations and connecting with our consumers—shifting our marketing to people to marketing with and for people," Gail Tifford, senior director of media and entertainment strategy for Unilever North America, said.
House of Style originally aired during 1989 through 2000, hosted by a bevy of supermodels. It returned as a 12-episode Web series in late 2012 but didn't return for a second season until the Unilever deal this year. While product placement isn't a new idea, resurrecting an iconic series to do it is certainly interesting.
Tifford added that the partnership helps customize "meaningful brand experiences" for millennials, who expect constant and engaging materials due to the prevalence of social media and technology. Because millennials are platform agnostic, Unilever and MTV thought the multiplatform approach was key. Media agency Mindshare helped develop the campaign.
"It's non-negotiable when trying to connect and engage with people in this connected world. We need to reach our consumers with the right message, on the right platform, at the right time via engaging content that works across the entire consumer journey—including point of sale," Tifford said.
"Our audience really is moving with fluidity between digital and social and linear," Baumgarten added. "We want to serve them up the kind of content they want in the places that they are."