Yahoo! UK & Ireland is to sponsor the nightly Channel 5 movie in a 12-month, &£2.4m deal.
It is the first time the Internet company has sponsored a TV slot, and it aims to establish Yahoo! as an entertainment portal rather than simply an online search engine.
Mark Waugh, managing partner of Optimedia, which negotiated the Channel 5 deal, says: “The target audience for these films is ideal for Yahoo! to position itself as an entertainment package which helps users find, buy or connect.”
HHCL & Partners has developed the sponsorship idents, which follow the year-long lifecycle of a gerbil.
Each ident shown will be a different snapshot of the gerbil’s life and every ident will be unique.
The gerbil can also be viewed live on webcam, 24 hours a day, on the Yahoo! website. Viewers will be able to vote on the gerbil’s name from Monday (March 12).
Yahoo! Europe is also rolling out a pan-European TV campaign this month to promote its e-mail service Yahoo! Mail.
The ads, which were created by Italian agency Orange Zero21, show two alp-horn players trying to communicate with each other across a valley using their instruments. When one of them does not receive a response he makes a video recording of himself playing the horn and sends it to his friend via Yahoo! Mail.
Yahoo! Europe marketing manager Giovanna D’Alessio says: “This TV campaign aims to increase use of Yahoo! Mail and other communication products while reinforcing our brand equity with the user.”