Underground Viral Video Has New Tune

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When James Egge, CEO of Web store provider Jaeter Corp., saw the "Numa Numa" dance for the first time six months ago, he was a little behind a trend.

The homemade video of Gary Brolsma openly lip-synching and arm-swinging to Romanian pop band O-Zone's "Dragostea din tei" first appeared nearly two years ago on free Flash Web site, www.newgrounds.com. It soon amassed a cult following for the 20-year-old Saddlebrook, NJ, resident as well as for the song, which reached No. 1 in 32 countries, including the United States.

But it's not a one-hit wonder as far as Jaeter Corp. is concerned. With the Sept. 9 launch of a site at www.newnuma.com and partnerships with YouTube, Iris Distribution, Xingtone, Mr. Brolsma and others, the aim is to revitalize and monetize the underground hit.

"We're not out to try to outdo the first one," Mr. Egge said. "Our intention was to have some fun and maintain the purity of the first Numa Numa."

He initially contacted Mr. Brolsma with the aim of creating an ad for icombi Bluetooth headphones that would feature a new Numa Numa music video, professionally shot with a new song by Variety Beats featuring Chad Russell.

The project grew from there. Visitors to newnuma.com can buy the new MP3 single, the ring tone and Numa Numa T-shirts; download software to create unique ring tones; purchase the brand of earphones that Mr. Brolsma wears in the new video; and enter a $45,000 contest to create the next Numa Numa video.

"We're trying to keep to the spirit of user-generated content by having a contest," Mr. Egge said.

The site began accepting worldwide video submissions Sept. 22 to YouTube's new contest platform. The resulting 50 most popular videos will receive prizes.

NewNuma already has drawn visitors from 132 countries, though 80 percent of the traffic comes from the United States. Jaeter, Minneapolis, will encourage the viral aspect of the video by running events on some Big 10 college campuses this month.

A partnership with O-Zone lead singer Dan Balan has led to links with his page at www.myspace.com/danbalanmusic. NewNuma will be the first to distribute the singer's latest "Sugar Tunes Numa Numa" single before any record label.

The road to turning a spontaneous Internet phenomenon into a commodity has had its bumps. Guiding consumers to all available products, overcoming misconceptions that the former video is being replaced and coordinating deadlines with more than a dozen partners were challenges.

"Mainly we want to capture sales that fit the flow," Mr. Egge said. "Everything we sell flows naturally from the video. It's not like we're trying to sell auto insurance."


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