Forget Facebook and Twitter. When MySpace relaunches later this year under new corporate parent Specific Media and creative director Justin Timberlake, the former News Corp. social-networking site will emerge with new competitors like iTunes, Spotify and Vevo in its crosshairs.
Al Dejewski, MySpace’s newly appointed senior VP-global marketing, likens MySpace’s eight-year life cycle to that of a young male adult who found a way to express himself through music but decided to bulk up on things like classified ads and horoscopes along the way.
“This young adult male needs to be put on a diet, we need to get it on P90X, clean its system and get back to its foundation. And we’ve found that foundation is music,” Mr. Dejewski told Ad Age. “No other music destination online today can claim the breadth of partnership we have with the four major music labels in addition to the tens of millions of independent artists and the libraries of their songs.”
MySpace’s renewed positioning as a music hub will be introduced through a launch campaign later this year. Mr. Dejewski has tapped two branding agencies, which he declined to reveal, to help enlist celebrities and major brands from the automotive, packaged-goods and quick-service-restaurant categories as promotional partners for MySpace’s new brand identity. Mr. Dejewski, a nearly 10-year veteran of PepsiCo who most recently worked on strategic marketing and promotions at Turner Entertainment Marketing in New York, embodies the type of consumer marketing executive Specific Media is looking for to help lead MySpace 3.0. The company’s other recent hires include Procter & Gamble vet Vic Catalfamo and former Warner Bros. and CBS exec Jim Knopf.
“When you think about the top 10 sites on ComScore, they all have a consumer-facing platform like YouTube or Yahoo or Facebook,” Mr. Dejewski said. “Then you get to No. 6, and this weird company called Specific Media doesn’t really conjure any image in the mind’s eye for a consumer proposition. The people at Specific realize they’ve built this really successful digital network but they don’t really have anything for the consumer, so they’re looking for experts, whether it’s from P&G or Warner Bros. or me from Pepsi. That way we can help them build that interactive content platform and, more importantly, that compelling position to engage and build users for these websites.”
As a consumer proposition, MySpace has gotten less and less mass in recent months, beginning the year with 73 million unique U.S. visitors in January, according to ComScore, and entering August with roughly half that base. So the forthcoming ad campaign will be designed to appeal to new users as well as existing and dormant users, through a media mix that will include print, radio and digital outlays as well as a retail component.
“We have over 70 million active users globally on a monthly basis, and in the U.S. it’s in the 30 [million] to 40 million range right now,” Mr. Dejewski said. “It’s no small database by any means. While we may have lost some traction to people like Facebook, things like LinkedIn are a very different proposition in my mind. We have a very broad reach and footprint today and one we can capitalize upon, no question about it.”