SBJ/20081117/SBJ In-Depth

Marketers weave brands into the culture

Marketers are taking their battle for eyeballs to Facebook and MySpace, wooing millions of social-networking Web surfers with everything from games touting their products to videos submitted by sneaker fans.

Adidas counts 621,000 fans on its Facebook page, which features high-quality original videos that highlight its shoes. That tops Nike, which has 487,000 fans. Nike’s Facebook page features photos of customers wearing its sneakers, along with user-generated videos and debates among users over various Nike models.

As part of its “Celebrate Originality” global brand campaign, Adidas began producing original videos for Facebook and Google’s YouTube.com in February. One of the videos features Adidas founder Adi Dassler.

Nike also has a page on Loop’d Network, a social network focused on action sports. It created a page focused on athletes that Nike sponsors in surfing, freestyle skiing, BMX and Motocross racing.

Nike’s presence on Loop’d Network
(top) touts athletes that the company
sponsors. McDonald’s has turned to
branded channels on MySpace
(above) for various promotions.

Facebook launched a brand advertising program last year, creating dedicated pages on the Web site for 12 of the world’s largest brands and companies including The Coca-Cola Co., Blockbuster, Verizon, Chase, Sony Pictures, Saturn and The New York Times Co.

Its “Facebook Ads” product gives brands dedicated Facebook pages that can be used to reach subscribers on the social-networking site. Subscribers can refer products to their friends and Facebook helps the advertisers target specific groups of subscribers.

Coke used Facebook to create a page for its Sprite brand that invites viewers to add an application called “Sprite Sips” that allows users to create and interact with an animated Sprite Sips character.

Blockbuster’s Facebook page allows users to search thousands of movie titles and share movie ratings and reviews with friends. Verizon’s page allows users to download ring tones and send text messages from their Facebook accounts to friends on their mobile phones.

Pontiac created a Facebook page to support its sponsorship of ESPN’s “Game Changing Performance” college football highlights package, allowing subscribers to use the site to vote for their favorite teams.

“Pontiac is very interested in what’s happening on college campuses. That’s where people start building preferences,” Patricia Betron, ESPN senior vice president of multimedia sales, said at an Interactive Advertising Bureau conference in New York last month.

MySpace also creates branded channels for advertisers, including McDonald’s, which it recently signed to sponsor its “Who, What, Wear” celebrity fashion show.

Steve Donohue is a writer in New York.

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