'Top Design' viewers say 'bravo' to contestants via mobile phones

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Bravo tapped mobile content services firm Motricity to power the interactive mobile platform for its newest reality series, "Top Design," a behind-the-scenes look at the interior design business.

Throughout the series, which began last week, viewers can cast live votes through Motricity's platform. Like on "American Idol," viewers are prompted to vote candidates on and off the television show via text messaging from a mobile phone.

"In general, there's a trend today in writing a plot line in reality shows that engages consumers with the call to action to either vote for or against contestants on the show," said Steve Leonard, general manager of off-deck at Motricity, Durham, NC.

In addition, users who text the word "DESIGN" to short code BRAVO (27286) will have time-sensitive messages sent to them during the airing of the program. SMS messages range from cast members' thoughts on competing designs to having a private look at behind-the-scenes happenings.

Each week, a viewer who texts in will win a piece of pottery from "Top Design" judge and interior designer Jonathan Adler. On the season finale, the grand-prize trip for two to New York City to have a consultation with the show's host, designer Todd Oldham, will be announced.

"Top Design" is one of several Bravo shows to employ mobile marketing campaigns with Motricity. This season's "Top Chef" included text voting and SMS messages and will offer viewers the chance to text and win $10,000 in the season finale.

According to Mr. Leonard, the adoption of mobile is not only appealing to TV networks to engage viewers, but it also can be profitable - a challenge in earlier years.

Networks are not only making money directly from consumers, who are paying a fee to send a text message, but are attracting brand advertisers to sponsor the mobile promotions. And brands are finding engagement with the viewers to be worth the money.

Mr. Leonard predicted more brand sponsorship in 2007.

"Brands are beginning to understand the benefit of the mobile marketing component to a show," he said. "These campaigns are appealing to the brand because they're bringing this cutting-edge technology to customers."

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