Make It Work: Vogue Launches Reality Show

If the medium is the message, what's the meaning behind a magazine creating an Internet reality show that is really just a lengthy advertisement?

Hoping to cash in on advertising dollars leaving print and moving to the Internet, Vogue magazine and marketing company IMG next month will launch a 12-episode online series called "Model.Live" that will offer viewers an inside look at the modeling industry and potentially offer advertisers much-coveted young viewers.

Mostly sponsored by the clothing company Express, the show will be posted on several video Web sites to maximize viewership and incorporate social networking and online shopping components, according to Thomas Florio, senior vice president and publishing director of Vogue Group.

"If you look at programs like 'Ugly Betty,' 'America's Next Top Model' and 'Project Runway,' it is clear that people want to watch video about fashion," Florio said. "We looked at people's desire for this content and the success of online video sites like YouTube and realized there was the potential there to combine fashion and online video."

Fashion Programming On The Web
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Online video is the fastest growing advertising medium, with compound annual growth estimated to increase 72 percent, or about $72 billion by 2012, according to Shar VanBoskirk, a digital media analyst at Forrester Research.

Model.Live will be one of the most expensive online video ventures ever, costing around $250,000 an episode. That's nearly 55 times what marketers spent on an average online video in 2007, according to Forrester Research, but less than an episode of TV.

"An episode of cable television would cost $300,000, so it's a fraction of that," Florio said. "Everyone is saying, 'Video, video, video.' But we're not just putting up video on our Web site. This isn't just a make-a-Web site thing. We're aware that video can be watched in multiple places, on a variety of sites, on your Xbox, on all the new flat screens. We've created a broadband TV channel and a social network, not a Web site with video."

As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, sources close to the deal said Express would pay seven figures to be the show's primary sponsor. Models will be provided Express clothing but, in keeping with the show's cinema-verite style, will not be forced to wear it. Viewers will be able to buy those Express items featured on the show.

The protagonists of the program are three relative newcomers represented by IMG and selected for their "mix of backgrounds, ethnicity, stories and aspirations," said Olivier Gers, global head of digital media at IMG.

The show will follow Austria Alcantara, 16, from the Dominican Republic; Cato Van Ee, a 19-year-old and Dutch woman; and Madeline Kragh, a 20-year-old American, as they travel the world between IMG-produced fashion weeks in New York, Paris and Milan, and audition for jobs.

If the medium is the message, what's the meaning behind a magazine creating an Internet reality show that is really just a lengthy advertisement?

Hoping to cash in on advertising dollars leaving print and moving to the Internet, Vogue magazine and marketing company IMG next month will launch a 12-episode online series called "Model.Live" that will offer viewers an inside look at the modeling industry and potentially offer advertisers much-coveted young viewers.

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