'Speed Racer' bursts onto MTV nets

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Series promos will transform into a contest tied to the Warner Bros. film.
Warner Bros.' "Speed Racer" will hijack and speed up TV promos and Web sites from MTV Networks in a multilayered, cross-platform marketing campaign tied to the tentpole movie's May 9 release.

From April 10-18, what will look like regular series promos airing during commercial breaks will suddenly speed up into one about a text-message "Speed Racer" contest in which players can compete to win a $100,000 custom-built version of the Mach 5, the car driven by the film's title character.

Each of the MTV networks will air about 100 of the 15-second spots, which will include Mach 5-themed footage from the movie and run mostly adjacent to the standard "Speed Racer" commercials. The promos on steroids will include clips from "DEA" on Spike; "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila" and "The Real World" on MTV; "Miss Rap Supreme" and "Viva Hollywood" on VH1; "The Big 4-0" on TV Land; and an overall network branding spot on Comedy Central.

On May 9, five MTVN sites also will be "sped up" by accelerating their video content as well as spinning and shaking their graphics while a fast-paced clip for the movie is streaming.

The idea of highlighting the film's speed and racing themes by mixing them up with the sort of fast-forwarding images that DVR-using audiences are accustomed to emerged from brainstorming meetings among "Speed Racer" producer Joel Silver and execs from MTVN, Warner Bros. and Warners' digital agency, Beyond Interactive.

"Consumers are utilizing their TiVos and DVRs to speed up programming," said Mark Fortner, MTVN vp and creative director of digital fusion. "So instead of playing against that, we can sort of tie in with the way people are actually consuming media and behaving."

The spots will direct viewers to go to RaceForSpeedRacer.com to enter their cell phone number or to text in a code to enter the contest. MTVN execs also plan to promote the text message race virally by seeding the 15-second promos and other content around the Internet.

Silver said he was impressed with the way MTV broke into on-air promos with footage from "Cloverfield" for that Paramount marketing campaign and wanted to do something similar for "Speed Racer."

"It is incorporating all of (MTVN's) online activity as well as their broadcast channels, and I think we have something that is really fresh and original (that) people will respond to," he said.

Because the film has a PG rating, the MTVN campaign also could help attract an older teen audience, he said.



John Shea, executive vp integrated marketing and brand partnerships at MTVN Music & Logo Group, said the campaign is MTVN's most far-reaching across their brands and platforms.

"For a viewer sitting at home, we wanted to make sure we borrowed our own content -- and hijacked that in a sense -- and attached it to the sped-up notion in 'Speed Racer' s world," he said.

The campaign also will include footage of the real-life functioning version of the Mach 5 being customized from a Chevy Corvette that will air in interstitials during Spike's Power Block of DIY automobile makeover shows May 3-4.

On April 18, the last day the spots air, those who registered will receive a question via text message. Those who answer correctly within two minutes will have their names entered into a pool of contestants. Ten people will be randomly selected to fly to Los Angeles with a guest and attend the film's April 26 premiere.

At the premiere, the finalists will race remote-controlled cars -- made by licensing partner Mattel -- based on the vehicles in the movie, and the winner will receive the Mach 5. MTV, VH1 and Spike News will cover the premiere and the race, with those segments airing during the week before the film's wide release.

The marketing campaign offers promotional muscle for "Speed Racer" both on air and online, even extending MTVN's digital relationship with Warner Bros. The cost is believed to be in line with a traditional movie media buy on MTV Networks, mostly because the channels and their digital sites are gaining a lot of content on a highly anticipated film in the process.

"We have a long and great relationship with the studio," Shea said, "and this is an important movie for them and one that works for us on all of our screens as not only promotion but as content."

He added: "We have historically had a common-denominator desire to innovate and build up the way that we partner. And not only the studio, but Joel as a filmmaker is a huge champion of that idea and in some ways expects nothing less."
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