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Fox, American Express Take To Twitter To Promote Sharing Of TV-Show Clips

Are clips of TV sitcoms and dramas passed around digitally as valuable to advertisers as the shows themselves? Fox and American Express are voting in the affirmative.

In a new pact that may be the first to attach a sponsor to clips of scripted broadcast-network TV programs distributed on Twitter, the financial-services company will run pre-roll ads before clips of Fox shows like: ”Glee,” “Bones,” “The Mindy Project,” “New Girl,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and, later in the season, “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Masterchef.” The deal will encompass the remainder of the season, said Jean Rossi, exec veep of sales for Fox Broadcasting.

The joint effort launched last week around an episode of “Glee,” and has continued with “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”(Fox ShowSnaps) and “The Mindy Project” and will next surface with Friday’s airing of “Bones.”

Like many advertisers, American Express is seeking a way to talk to consumers who are wrapped up in the millions of quick, informal chats that take place in social media. The challenge for blue-chip marketers who spend months developing very formal 30-second ads for TV, however, is to come off as less buttoned-up in an emerging venue.

The Fox pact looks to find “a way for us to be nimble and to be able to partake in the conversation quickly enough to be relevant and to be topical,” said Jill Toscano, vice president of media at American Express. With more people talking about TV via social-media venues, she said, the agreement allows American Express to enable “the watercooler moments that are happening.”

The Fox video clips are the latest TV-network product to make their way to Twitter via the social-networking company’s advertising outreach effort known as Amplify. Unveiled last year with ESPN football clips that included ads for Ford’s Fusion tucked alongside them, the Twitter offering attempts to draw revenue from the use of some of the nation’s most-watched pieces of content: TV shows.

Twitter has also partnered with cable networks like BBC America for programs such as “Top Gear” and media companies like Viacom and Time Warner’s Turner, which have allowed the use of clips from big events such as the MTV Video Music Awards and the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. CBS agreed to use Twitter’s Amplify program in September.

Broadcast networks at one time may have shied away from letting loose pieces of content from current programs, said Rossi, but these days “we are all about the social push.”

At a time when live viewership has become more difficult to muster thanks to an increasing spate of technology that allows for on-demand viewing of TV programs, “we are all about pushing our content to as many people that want to see it,” she said, in the hopes of inspiring them to share moments from favorite TV shows and spark more interest in viewing them.

Fox’s American Express-sponsored tweets will be sent out from the feeds of the various programs involved, she said. American Express’s feed will also make content available to followers, said Toscano.

The company, best known for its flagship credit card, has demonstrated an interest in recent TV seasons in sponsoring a number of new TV formats, often with Fox. Last season, for instance, American Express sponsored a Fox effort that allowed viewers using the Fox Now iPad app to shop for various items featured in episodes of “New Girl,” like jewelry or salt-and-pepper shakers. During the tenure of popular spy drama “24” on the 21st Century Fox-owned broadcast network, American Express supported a series of short “extra” scenes from the show designed expressly to be shown on mobile phones. The vignettes were called “mobisodes.”

All production studios and showrunners involved with the programs approved their use in the ad pact, said Rossi, who noted that Mindy Kaling of “The Mindy Project” was very interested in such ideas. Fox is in talks with other advertisers for similar initiatives using Twitter, Rossi said.

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