IPhones Prompt Public Displays

NEW YORK The introduction of the Apple iPhone last week, with its tech-savvy, affluent audience standing on line in public locations, proved to be an irresistible opportunity for some marketers.

ON Networks, an Austin, Texas-based company that produces and hosts short films, decided the Monday before the phones went on sale to get in on the action. It hired GC Marketing Services in New York to deploy teams of people at 15 locations in 13 cities where buyers were lining up for the iPhone, including Austin and New York. Outfitted in ON Networks T-shirts, the street teams distributed 3,500 flyers emblazoned with a URL set up specifically for people using their iPhones to surf the Web, www.onnetworks.com/iphone.

At the URL, viewers could see 80 pieces of content, ranging in length from two to seven minutes, that had been re-encoded to take advantage of the iPhone’s resolution.

While ON Network declined to provide specific numbers, it did say the URL attracted between 20,000 and 30,000 visitors, which is close to what the company’s home page normally draws. Because of the delays some people have had getting their phone service to work, the firm said traffic to the page has remained steady since Sunday, with people coming to the site as their connections become operational.

“We got excited about the buzz building. You’ve got a brand new device that is very much aligned with how consumer control will manifests itself in the future,” said Kip McClanahan, CEO of ON Networks. “It made sense to align ourselves with the excitement and promote our content.”

ON Networks was not the only brand trying to latch onto the iPhone buzz. Sirius Satellite Radio handed out rain ponchos in New York and toy retailer FAO Schwartz gave those in line teddy bear key fobs and bottles of bubbles.

ON Networks plans to incorporate branding into its show lineup over the next 30-45 days. The programs range in topic from cooking to dating to indie rock music.

Production companies around the country and people who work in Hollywood, who will get a cut of the revenue from the advertising, create the programming. “We call them pro-sourcers,” said McClanahan of his firm’s content creators. “We call them that to distinguish them from people who fill up YouTube with crap.”