Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tommy experiments with a new kind of retail TV

While much has been made of major brands launching (or at least testing) in-store TV networks, Tommy Hilfiger has decided to take a different direction and launch their own branded content channel -- on the Internet. Now obviously Internet video channels are nothing new, and in fact some consumer products companies have been trying their hand at branded video channels for a while (does ring a bell? No? Yeah, that's been the big problem). But according to this little blurb at PROMO Magazine, "Tommy Hilfiger has launched TommyTV in collaboration with Sony BMG to present live concert performances online from the ongoing Hilfiger Sessions series along with archived footage of past performances."

Of course, a bunch of live performances isn't going to gather a huge and loyal audience. No, for that the company has decided to turn up the mix, with, "exclusive artist interviews and backstage footage from intimate concert settings around the world." Additionally, "Hilfiger Auditions section will let aspiring musical artists upload videos of themselves and compete for a shot at stardom on a platform intended to draw music industry executives and casual Web surfers." While user-generated content isn't a 100% sure-fire way to grab and hold an audience or build a fanbase, you can't deny that it worked for YouTube, and gained a huge following when user-generated commercials were run during the 2007 Superbowl. And in fact, the company has been savvy enough to partner with the big user-generated video sites, noting that, "TommyTV branded channels on YouTube and Joost will feature concert clips to draw surfers to the Web site. Clips will also be accessible on MySpace and Facebook. Sony BMG’s myplay music network will feature pre-roll videos and banner ads intended to push traffic to"

On the one hand, it shouldn't be rocket science to create a modestly successful video website. Populate it with enough A-grade content that can't be found elsewhere, foster growth via user submissions and the usual bevy of social media technologies, and all the while promote the brand on other channels and in other media. But I don't quite understand what the company hopes to gain for their effort. Tommy's image has changed significantly in the few decades that it has existed, as has its target audience. That having been said, it doesn't strike me that having a video channel - even a reasonably successful one (and let's face it, that's the best they can possibly hope for) will do much to spread their message, build their brand image, or attract new potential customers.

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