Procter & Gamble’s Gain detergent and Progressive Insurance have signed on for Starlicious, an online game show that plays on America’s fascination with celebrities.
The show, now running on the News Corp.-owned celebrity gossip site, DailyFill.com, tests contestants’ knowledge of celebrity trivia with two press-the-button, answer-it-first rounds, followed by a 30-second “speed round” before advancing to the final prize.
Those who are not content with merely watching Starlicious—which enters episode five of its first season this week—can also compete with other online viewers for a chance to appear on the show. (The criteria involves notching the top score in its “Celebrity Trivia Challenge.”)
The program stemmed from the observation that Americans, for the most part, are obsessed with Tinseltown but they are also looking for viral and interactive experiences to deliver on that content, said Brett Garfinkel, whose company, No Soap Radio Entertainment, brought together the production, distribution, interactive and technology partners that assisted with the launch.
A typical show format runs like this: Three contestants answer a series of questions. There are three rounds, and points escalate with each succeeding round, allowing a player who’s fallen behind in one challenge to speedily catch up. By the end of the third, or 30-second “speed round,” two of the contestants have already been eliminated. The remaining “winner”—Starlicious rewards the one left standing with a prize—then advances to a “Celebrity Five Star Final Round.” (Contestants must choose from one of three celebrities and then answer as many out of the five questions as he or she can about him/her. Topics range from “lineage to career to dating,” Garfinkel said.)
There is product integration woven throughout. Gain, for instance, sponsors a Celebrity Gossip Break, where guest reporters from celebrity blog and news sites dish about the latest on Hollywood’s “star duos.”
The partnership coincides with an online campaign Gain kicked off last month. Called “Better Together,” the effort, which stars real-life best friend celebrities Melissa Joan Hart and Soleil Moon Frye, emphasizes that Gain works better when its “detergent and fabric softener come together.”
The Gain consumer is someone who is “very experimental, enjoys living in the moment” and enjoys the joy that Gain brings to her life, whether that be “sniffing its amazing scent in the store or taking a two-minute break to play a videogame online,” said Paul Vraciu, Gain North American brand manager. Gain’s logo appears at the bottom throughout the show. The brand sponsors The Starlicious Questionator, and it serves up phrases like “Sniff-tacular!” when contestants get something right. Progressive Insurance, meanwhile, sponsors trivia categories like “Fast Romances” because it offers “fast quotes.”
Though the online game show format is hardly proven, Matt Britton, CEO and founder of Mr Youth—an interactive marketing agency in New York that did not work on the effort—said product placement in such environments is not only “more noticeable” but also “more impactful.” Unlike television game shows, where “there’s so much going on that you’re not likely to notice,” branded integration in online games tends to stick as consumers are highly engaged, he said.