LonelyGirl15 team brands new KateModern

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NEW YORK -- The producers and social networking site behind the spinoff of the Web sensation LonelyGirl15 are significantly upping the number of brand partners and level of their integrations for their next project.

U.K.-based social networking site Bebo is starting the KateModern series with six brand partners -- Microsoft Windows Live, Buena Vista International, cell phone carrier Orange and Procter & Gamble brands Gillette, Pantene and Tampax. The series kicks off in the first half of August.

LonelyGirl15 recently cut a deal with Neutrogena to be featured as the employer of a new young scientist character in the show and integrated Hershey's Ice-breaker Sours Gum in an episode in March.

Bebo president of international Joanna Shields said that in addition to being featured in KateModern story lines, the brands will have the opportunity to interact with viewers in innovative ways, such as on the characters' profile pages on Bebo. With nine million users in the U.K., Bebo is the most popular social networking site there, and with 12 million it's No. 3 in the U.S., behind MySpace and Facebook.

Following the formula of Lonelygirl15, Bebo expects that the new series will be interactive, with story elements carrying over onto comment boards, messages and videos uploaded by viewers, allowing the Bebo community to affect the story line.

The show will air on YouTube and other sites, but the interactive features will only be available on Bebo, Shields said.

"There are all kinds of way for brands to reach the audience, not just preroll and postroll (ads)," she said. "There will be high levels of engagement inside the social network itself. Each of the four main characters will have profiles on Bebo, and users on the network will interact with them much like they interact with friends."

Shields said the characters, for example, could post clues to the show's story line on their profile pages. "Each time viewers interact with the characters, there are multiple opportunities for brands to reach consumers with ads of some sort," she said. "It's a unique opportunity for advertisers to engage on this level because they can't do this on television."

Shields would not provide specifics on how the brands will be integrated into the show. She also declined to disclose the specific financial terms of the deals but said the advertisers are paying the "equivalent" of what they would spend to sponsor a primetime TV show targeted to the same 13-24 demographic.

Shields said Bebo is talking to other producers about airing their shows on Bebo as well.

Set in London, KateModern revolves around an art student, her friends and an evolving mystery that encroaches upon her "normal" life. It will be produced by Miles Beckett and Greg Goodfried, who are also the creators and producers of Lonelygirl15, which has had more than 50 million views since the series launched last summer.

While the LonelyGirl15 integration deals were orchestrated by Beckett and Goodfried -- the Neutrogena one with the help of CAA -- the KateModern deals were a collaborative effort between Bebo and Telegraph Ave., Beckett and Goodfried's new digital production company.
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