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A Paramount movie integrated into Sony web programming

Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging movie promoted on Bebo through Sofia's DiarySofia's Diary branded entertainment on Bebo This is so meta, I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around it. Sofia's Diary is an "interactive Web drama" that's produced by Sony Pictures Television International. Its episodes and related programming -- e.g., the main character's blog -- are on Bebo.com. Sofia's Diary is branded entertainment, which means that its characters and plot twists are designed to advance an advertiser's message. Anyway, today Bebo announced the integration of a new advertiser into the program: Paramount Pictures UK. Characters and other elements from a new Paramount teen movie,  "Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging," were inserted into the world of Sofia's Diary for a two-episode run, timed to the movie's opening weekend. In other words, Sofia's faux reality was tuned to promote a faux reality from a different medium (film).

Like EQAL's lonelygirl15 and KateModern, Sofia's Diary is a hybrid of programmed entertainment and social network. The first step taken to promote the movie was adding a video blog on the site for the lead character in the film, a teenager named Georgia Nicolson. Note that the blog is for a fictional person, not the actress who plays her. Later, an episode of Sofia's Diary (no. 94) had Sofia's editor at "Wicked" magazine telling her to get the scoop on Nicolson. Meanwhile, posters for "Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging" suddenly started appearing in the Wicked office. Sophia and her editor discussed Nicolson a second time in the next episode (no. 95), again laying on the praise with a trowel. The promotion wasn't the only thing going on in those videos, but it was a main part of the action.

The episodes serve as a good introduction to the branded entertainment phenomenon for anyone who thinks embedded advertising means putting a Coke cup in front of Simon Cowell. And in light of the debate in Washington over how in-program promotions should be disclosed, it's worth noting how the site alerts viewers to the presence of advertising messages. There's a notice just below the video window that states, "More Video Info: This is a sponsored page and is an advertising feature." And the opening frames of the video itself display the message, "Sofia's Diary contains products which have been included in the show on behalf of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies `Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.' " The message flits by a bit too briefly and the grammar could be improved, but it gets the point across.

For the curious, here's some "Angus" video:


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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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