MTV spins advertising into (toy) gold

The Canadian-conceived MTV Fauna spots and toys are grabbing attention worldwide.

Look out, Sponge Bob. MTV Canada has turned a prize bit of its promotional advertising into a saleable product: a line of exclusive collectible toys called MTV Fauna. Devised by toy designer Nathan Jurevicius, of Scary Girl fame, the characters were originally conceived for a series of MTV Canada station IDs that launched in August.

‘We dream of extending our brand everywhere that we possibly can, and the idea of young people across Canada owning these things and having them in their homes is just a further way for us to connect passionately to our audience,’ says Brad Schwartz, SVP/GM of CTV’s music and youth services, not to mention the inspiration for Fauna character ‘Darb’ (an anagram for ‘Brad’).

The characters pulled in so many calls and emails that the in-house creative team decided to repackage them as mobile wallpapers and build an online home for them at Demand was such that MTV took the concept further – tapping into the current trend of high-end, limited-edition figurines – and released 500 Fauna for sale in December.

‘We always want to be ahead of the curve, to find the underground trends before they happen,’ says Schwartz, adding that about half of the Faunas have already sold, and that he believes they’ll soon sell out altogether. ‘Advertisers expect us to be that lightning rod for finding things first, so they can make meaningful connections to their audience.’

The toys, which are available from the website for C$90, have attracted attention from specialty stores in the US, the UK and Korea. San Francisco shop Super7 is selling them for US$250. Schwartz says he even saw one of the toys posted for sale on eBay before they were available in stores.

The original animated spots have been picked up by MTV stations in Poland and the UK, and have been on rotation in Times Square in NYC for the past six to eight weeks. It’s not the first time Canadian creative has found its way to other stations in the MTV network, but this project has attracted more attention than any other, Schwartz says. ‘We like to say ‘Canada to the world!”