HBO enlists Firefox for series promotion

Television cable channel HBO designs a downloadable "skin" for the Web browser in the custom theme of its upcoming series "Rome."

Online advertisers have found a new home for promotions--the popular Mozilla Firefox Web browser.

Television cable channel HBO, via its interactive agency, has designed a downloadable "skin" for the Firefox Web browser in the custom theme of its upcoming series "Rome"--an 11-episode drama that charts the rise of an Italian empire. The skin, or "theme," as they are known in Firefox tools, transforms the buttons and external design of the browser into the feel of antiquity.

Representatives for Mozilla and HBO's agency, Deep Focus, said it is the first commercial theme developed for Firefox.

"The browser is an important piece of real estate," said Ian Schafer, CEO of Los Angeles-based Deep Focus. "This is one way to break through the clutter."

Firefox has risen in popularity in recent years as a viable alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Though its market share slipped slightly last month, researchers estimate that between 8 and 9 percent of the Internet population use the open-source browser--and it's a devoted crew.

Deep Focus developed the Rome theme using Firefox developers' kit. People can download the skin when they see an online banner ad on sites viewed by the Firefox browser. Sites with the ads include Salon.com and the New York Times Web site.

The skin should also be available through Firefox's tools menu in "themes." But as of late Monday, it was not accessible.

The Rome series on HBO, which is spending $10 million to promote it, will begin airing Aug. 28.

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