In an age where advertisers try to stand out by blending in, native advertising is only the beginning of the limits that will be pushed in blurring creative content and promotion. In fact, as prime-time shows go looking for love from an increasingly fickle audience through online channels, characters from one popular show have gone looking for love, literally, on an online dating app.
Mindy Kaling in "The Mindy Project"Source: Fox
Fox Entertainment has latched on to Tinder, a popular social media dating app for iPhone and Android devices, whose simple website boasts: "It's how real people meet. It's like real life, but better."
Real people might be surprised that a few of the people they "meet" are not real, but fictitious characters from Fox's prime-time comedy, "The Mindy Project."
Tinder users are presented with "Mindy" characters (see below): faux profiles If they choose to indicate interest, they'll be sent an automated message to "tune-in to PROJECT this Tuesday."
The fast-paced and transient nature of digital media has morphed traditional 30- or 60-second television spots into full-blown multimedia campaigns that don't just stop at Twitter.
"The world of advertisers disseminating information—and that's it—is gone," said Julia Huang, CEO and founder of ad agency interTREND Communications.
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Love, in the style that "The Mindy Project" went looking for it, has a precedent. InterTREND previously ran an ad campaign for AT&T in the form of a romantic comedy Web series that allowed viewers to select the story line for upcoming episodes. The advertising was both interactive and native, giving viewers the power to decide the outcome of the character's romance while being pitched a bundle of AT&T products.
Huang said that brands run the risk of being too aggressive with native. "Sometimes it's not just creepy, it's falsifying identification almost," Huang said, referring to campaigns including Fox's "Mindy" character profiles on Tinder.
A Tinder spokeswoman said these profiles were not ads but a partnership with Fox. Tinder's Twitter account "favorited" the tweet that referred to the partnership with Fox as a creative advert. Tinder CEO Sean Rad declined to comment. Through a spokeswoman, Fox Entertainment marketing executives in charge of the campaign declined to provide comment.
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