Rox Darling and Primo Water take a Beach Walk Together: A Peek Into an E-content Sponsorship Deal

From its very beginning, the Web held promise for a new day in marketing. Its content builds community, while other media remain individual experiences. Its accessibility makes every one an artist. If the Web is advertising’s shiny new toy, why do advertisers insist on using it in old-school ways?

It’s not been a failure of imagination…it’s been a lack of heart.

Beach Walk 646 – Taming the To Do List
Enter Rox Darling. The high priestess of e-aloha, Rox’s breezy Hawaiian beach walk videos have become a daily ritual for people seeking a little respite from a stressful world. Spreading her earnest goodwill and a sincere desire to be a voice that stands for renewal, Rox wants the Web to be a force that changes the way people interact with others and their environment.

Rox brings a lot of heart to the Web. Her efforts have been rewarded. The award-winning has earned more than 2 million downloads. That’s over 4,000 downloads per day. Plus, an active cadre of fellow bloggers drop in for the occasional, “Aloha, Rox…I was just thinking about something you said”

But now she has new bragging rights. She has a major sponsor! And while some of the financial arrangements remain under wraps, Rox freely shared several aspects of the deal when she spoke to me from her Barefeet Studios. “We knew from the start that we had to protect the online environment—the beach I walk on is pristine. So my site has to reflect that,” says Rox. She believes that serenity is part of what draws people to her daily video blog. “I couldn’t see littering the site with a lot of little tile ads,” she lamented. “People come here for daily renewal, I have to honor that.”

Instead, she and Susan Bratton of Personal Life Media developed a strategy for seeking out just the right sponsor. “We had to get it right and find a true partner for the Beachwalks brand.” They clicked with Primo Water, a bottled water brand with a biodegradable bottle made of vegetable oils, not petroleum. It’s been a great match.

How it works:

Spots. A brief spot runs after every BWWR segment. Rather than interrupting or preempting what people come for. The simpatico look and feel of the Primo spot virtually extends the experience, so viewers linger to watch it.

Hotlinks. Rox’s site is robust with lots of cubby holes for content to explore. Links to Primo are scattered throughout, but nested carefully in Rox’s sincere gratitude for the tie.

Star power. Rox is low-key about her celebrity, but she knows her star power is a tacit endorsement. Better yet, it’s an endorsement with a booster pack of community that loves Rox. And hey, bottled water is bottled water. May as well drink the one that’s making Rox’s show possible every morning, right? The next wave for Rox is to evangelize her loyal viewers to walk into their local stores and ask for the water because they love Rox. Love me love my sponsors. It’s a delicate proposition for someone as attuned as Rox is to the welter of exploitative marketing platforms out there, but she has the brand equity to make it happen.

Eye balls. Beachwalks attracts RenGen viewers: cultural omnivores, well-educated, spiritually open and eco-conscious. How many? Since its beginning, over 2 million people have downloaded the vlog, at an average rate of 4,000 per day.

Intimacy. These are impressive numbers. But not the gargantuan number advertisers get through TV ads. Still, the web’s intimacy grows community that cross-endorses in ways that make a brand sticky earn cred that TV cannot deliver.

Quality. The production values, the beauty of the beach, the magnetism of Rox and the gentle seduction of her brand: “It’s all good if we are good to each other.”

Hands on. Rox and Susan are working with Primo, and other potential sponsors to connect into other needs such as workplace programs and custom streaming. But these programs prove to be a little more work for the sponsor, Rox admits. Still, the future seems to be headed toward fusing the brick and clicks that help link employees, customers and content together.

What’s next for Rox and her beach companion, Lexi the dog? “I want to take Beachwalks on the road. I want to go to beaches around the world and radiate out the energy that is Beach Walks,” says Rox.” We hope a sponsor can make that possible for a talent who has built one of the Web’s most authentic brands.