Zune, New Era launching webisodes

Marketing campaign will feature Nelly, N.E.R.D.

NEW YORK -- Microsoft's Zune, as part of a marketing campaign with hat manufacturer New Era, will be releasing a series of webisodes featuring artists such as Nelly, Linkin Park and N.E.R.D.

The free webisodes, which are expected to be five to seven minutes long, will focus on lifestyle questions such as "What's on their Zune player?" "What are they listening to?" and "Where do they get their inspiration from?" said Jen Yu, entertainment marketing manager at New Era in New York. They will be seen on the Zune marketplace and www.neweracap.com.

"We wanted to focus on lifestyle content and show how our brand is aligned with it," Yu said. "We're supporters of music, and the artists we're promoting are big supporters of New Era."

In addition to the webisodes artists and other celebrities like wrestler Rampage will design hats for New Era. Zune will then release custom players that feature the cap. Zune is hoping the artists will create additional content for the webisodes.

For example, the webisode about N.E.R.D. might show the group designing a New Era cap, practicing for one of their concerts and include performance footage from a show, said Damian Bulluck, New York-based manager of product marketing at Zune.

"We're working with athletes and artists with compelling human interest factor," Bulluck said. "We wanted to make sure the artists would create additional content."

N.E.R.D.'s "Spaz," from its 2008 album "Seeing Sounds," was recently featured prominently in an ad for the Zune created by I.P.G's TAG agency.