The Hollywood Reporter
September 27, 2005 Tuesday
LENGTH: 1387 words
BYLINE: Todd Wasserman
Ben Silverman, Reveille CEO and executive producer of NBC's "The Office" and "Meet
Mr. Mom," recalls that when he first got into branded entertainment in the late
1990s, he thought it would be easy to show a return on investment to marketers.
"I thought sure, just look for a bump in (product) sales," he says. "But it's not that
simple. During that time, were people influenced to buy something during
Christmas? You don't really know."
Tom Meyer, president of Davie-Brown Entertainment, which handles placements for
PepsiCo, agrees. "There are very few times you can take a placement and tie it
directly to sales," he says.
The truth is, product placement falls under a malleable heading that's known as
"branding," which has become viewed as an investment without quantifiable returns.
(The same goes for branded-entertainment deals such as an ESPN show Anheuser-
Busch is mulling for its Budweiser brand next year that'll take aim at the sport of
darts; or "First Descent," a film financed by PepsiCo's Mountain Dew brand that will
be distributed theatrically by Universal in December.)
Solving that "return on investment" question about branded entertainment has
become the industry's $64,000 question, with the bottom line being this: Is it even
worth it? In the past year or so, a number of firms -- including IAG, iTVX and Nielsen
Entertainment (a subsidiary of VNU Inc., parent company of The Hollywood
Reporter) -- have attempted to answer it by setting a pricing standard for the
The equivalent of a rate card remains elusive, but at least the discussion has started,
says John Zamoiski, president of NMA Marketing, a Los Angeles-based branded-
entertainment firm. "Some are taking a shot in the dark," he notes, "but at least if
you create a standard, you have a place to start."
Frank Zazza, CEO of New York-based iTVX, believes that ideally, marketers should
pay "on results" for placements on an established per-second basis. "Clients are not
doing it right now, but there's no question this is the business model of the future,"
If that's how things spin out, the model of the future looks much like the old one for
broadcast ads, in which prices -- based on CPMs (cost-per-thousand viewers) -- are
set, and advertisers routinely earn free time in the form of "make goods" if
programming doesn't hit a particular ratings point.
Zazza's iTVX has implemented a measurement system on its Web site
(www.itvx.com) that provides subscribing members with an interactive way to
evaluate both product placement and branded results.
Meanwhile, companies like Los Angeles-based the Salter Group have branched off
with subsidiary Brand Advisors, which places a dollar valuation on potential brand-
integration strategies. "We're hired by the film or brand company to tell the
advertiser what we think it's worth," principal Roy Salter says.
But, Salter notes, valuating branded entertainment is a "stepping stone" to "a much
bigger question" -- that is, video-on-demand and Internet protocol television. "That's
what's going to keep (advertisers) up all night," he says, "when we can watch
whatever we want, when we want it."
Until recently, the business of quantifying branding's success was more informal.
Many branding instances came from product-placement agencies, which typically
charge between $5,000-$20,000 a month to get products in the hands of
propmasters during production. That, and some donated product, represented the
sum total of the marketer's product-placement expense.
Realizing that a changing ad model means ad-sales growth now will come largely
from product placement, TV networks have taken over much of the dealmaking. For
example, Mark Burnett, executive producer of CBS' "Survivor" and NBC's "The
Apprentice," among others, has shown that advertisers are willing to pay up to $5
million to get their brand featured in a one-hour primetime show. But the lack of a
pricing standard means each deal has to be worked out individually. With a standard
in place, deals could be inked much more quickly, and the networks would have
third-party justification for their prices.
However, some aren't waiting for the networks or a third party to come up with a
standard. NMA has offered that service to some clients for years, as have talent
agencies such as CAA and ICM. One of NMA's clients, General Motors, has had the
firm create an in-house group that assigns ratings to GM's various branded-
And what GM has discovered is that having its car in a camera shot doesn't really do
much for sales or branding. "Is there a reason for it being there that goes beyond
just pure placement? It's got to be true integration," says Steve Tihanyi, general
director of marketing alliances and promotions for GM. For example, the GMC Yukon
XL Denalis serve as mobile analysis units on CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,"
and more such "CSI" tie-ins are planned for the fall season.
Similarly, PerfectMatch.com has done placement deals for films and TV networks
such as Lifetime and MSNBC. Most notably, the Web dating service had a tie-in with
Warner Bros. Pictures' July romantic comedy "Must Love Dogs," appearing as an
integral part of the film. Now, CEO Duane Dahl says he wants his company to have a
branded talk show of its own.
"We've certainly found that with our placement with 'Dr. Phil,' viewers respond if
we're part of the action," says Dahl, noting that a recent segment on the syndicated
"Dr. Phil" show used the service to unite "perfectly" matched men and women.
Such demands put the networks in a quandary. Ad spending is flat, and they need
new revenue streams. But they also don't want shows that look like infomercials with
brands demanding more face time.
ABC's approach has been to adopt low-key placement and branding deals. Dan
Longest, senior vp integrated marketing and promotion at the network, says ABC
only does about one placement deal a week, which effectively roots out any
conflicting deals made by production companies. "We said years ago we're not going
to turn ourselves into the promotional network," he explains.
But ABC stands out as the lone exception on the dial, with the average sitcom or
reality show on other networks now beginning to rival NASCAR in terms of onscreen
logos. The number of product placements during network primetime grew 100% in
the first quarter of 2005 and another 100% in the second, according to Nielsen
Product Placement. The 10 shows with the most placements averaged 6.4 per hour.
No figures exist for overall placements in movies, but some reviewers have taken
recent movies to task for such overt advertising -- most notably, Buena Vista's June
comedy "Herbie: Fully Loaded," which critic Richard Roeper described as "product
placement gone wild."
Wall-to-wall placement might have hurt "Herbie's" boxoffice somewhat ($65 million
domestically on a $50 million budget, at press time), yet even if the film had
flopped, brands might have still done well, a truism for television as well: NBC's "The
Contender" wasn't a huge hit, but it was credited with causing tie-in partner
Everlast's first-quarter sales to jump 23%.
Likewise, Sweet'n Low had no problem with Sony's decision to postpone its release of
"The Pink Panther"; marketers saw it as a way to extend their association with the
upcoming Steve Martin film at no additional cost. And Rose Downey, marketing
manager for Au'some Candies, says tie-ins for Fox's January actioner "Elektra," a
spinoff of 2003's "Daredevil," did well.
"Candy is universal for all age groups," she says. "It's an inexpensive way to get
involved with the character." Au'some so enjoyed its experience with "Elektra" that
the company has returned for Universal's planned December release "King Kong,"
using the 72-year-old icon in products ranging from yo-yos to a Power Pop.
Whether firms find a way to quantify branding's success in numbers or dollars could
prove unnecessary as products stand further apart from the shows and films in which
they are featured. "The success of a marketing program has nothing to do with
boxoffice success," Miramax executive vp worldwide promotions Lori Sale says. "If
10 people see the movie and they're the right 10 people for a brand, then what do
LOAD-DATE: October 2, 2005
May 22, 2006
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 6
LENGTH: 804 words
HEADLINE: Marketers grab wheel in course down Mad + Vine;
EXCLUSIVE SURVEY: Execs at top advertisers want more control of content
BYLINE: T. L. STANLEY
Advertisers want to seize control of branded entertainment.
That finding emerged from a survey of senior-level executives from blue-chip
marketers including Volkswagen, Burger King, MasterCard, Apple, Coca-Cola, Nestle
and Anheuser-Busch conducted exclusively for Advertising Age by Bellison & Co. A
full 41% of those surveyed said advertisers themselves, not media-buying firms or
Hollywood talent agencies, will drive growth in the branded entertainment space in
the coming years.
Moreover, 53% reported that their own internal groups will direct the projects,
running counter to marketers' hiring binges of the past several years, where they've
brought in a raft of talent agencies and other outside firms to help navigate brand
The survey was conducted among more than 100 marketers gathered recently in
Southern California for a conference hosted by Universal Studios Partnerships, a
group that marries advertisers with NBC Universal entertainment properties such as
feature films ``King Kong'' and ``Curious George'' and theme parks Universal
Studios Hollywood and Orlando. More than half of those responding-53%-said they
want to create their own content and are willing to finance branded entertainment.
``We're starting to see more marketers who feel this way,'' said Stephanie Sperber,
executive VP-Universal Studios Partnerships. ``They want to own the content
because there's so much they can do with it across media platforms. There are so
many efficiencies associated with it.''
Volkswagen, for one, is in that camp. ``When you create original content, it might
not be a blockbuster movie, but there are more opportunities to distribute that
content beyond the big screen or TV,'' said Mike Grollman, general manager-global
entertainment marketing, who attended the conference and took part in the survey.
``You can explore all the extensions.''
Media money has been shifting out of traditional channels such as TV for some time,
and those surveyed said they would continue to dip into existing marketing budgets
to pay for branded entertainment projects. While 59% said they will reallocate
money to cover such deals, 19% said they will put additional dollars into the space.
There's still no precise measure of return on investment in branded entertainment,
but 61% of the marketers surveyed said they get involved in such projects to boost
sales and buff their images with consumers. They evaluate based on hard data and
emotional triggers. Marketers judge brand integration on everything from ``sales,
consumer awareness and media reporting'' to ``message relevance,'' ``buzz'' and
``becoming a positive part of our consumers' conversations.''
Marketers want most to be on the Web, with 80% saying they have ``high interest''
in branded entertainment for that medium, topping the 65% that have ``high
interest'' for TV. Some 16% of marketers said they have ``low interest'' in feature
films for branded-entertainment deals.
``We still need to be convinced that branded entertainment in film will impact
consumer behavior,'' one marketer wrote in the survey. ``We need a push.''
Finding the right content was listed by 78% of marketers as the top challenge,
followed by 34% who said there needs to be better measurement of ROI. Twenty-
eight percent said finding the right talent fit and coming to equitable deal terms are
major obstacles. Many were concerned with the long development process, which, in
the case of films, can take years.
don't exploit me
Marketers clearly are concerned about protecting their interests. ``It isn't clear how
cost-effective deals will be,'' one wrote in the survey. ``The costs are high, and we
don't want to be exploited.''
Broader questions about the ad industry still found support for the much-maligned
30-second spot. ``It's still powerful, and it's not going away,'' one marketer wrote,
echoing the sentiments of many.
There's broad consensus, though, that change is mandatory. ``The traditional spot
needs to evolve quickly or it'll become obsolete,'' one marketer wrote, while another
said it ``needs to be reinvented.''
Marketers across the board talked about their increasingly diverse media mix, saying
they're spending more on MySpace.com, mobisodes, blogging, podcasts, in-store
media, video games, viral campaigns, interactive TV and, of course, product
``We're investing more of our media budget online and in promotions now than in
traditional advertising,'' one marketer said. Another wrote: ``Interactivity is
important to us. The ability to track and measure consumer activity is critical.''
Making it happen
* Understanding each other's businesses, objectives
* Creative fit, seamless content integration
* Talent fit
* ROI, lack of measurement, fair deal terms
* Development cycle, getting involved early
Source: Bellinson & Co. Inc.
Hollywood Meets Madison Avenue
By Laura Blum, Adweek
August 07, 2006
Late last week, Scout Productions COO Eric Korsh let the marketing world know he's
seeking product integrations for a new drama series about an inner-city sports team,
Dorchester Eagle Football. Scout, creator of Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,
expects to wrap several deals within three weeks.
That’s pretty quick turnaround in the world of branded entertainment, where placement
deals often require months of negotiations among myriad stakeholders. But two Web-
based start-ups are trying to change the dynamics of product placement deal-making, up
until now largely contained to the office suites of Hollywood and New York branded
entertainment companies, producers and media agencies.
One venture, NextMedium’s Embed, has created an e-commerce exchange for
placements that includes an eBay-style auction process. It also offers clients the ability to
gauge performance post-play through metrics jointly developed with Nielsen Media
Research. The other new service, Media Matchmaker, brokers introductions between
producers and marketers via the Internet.
In the process they’ve sparked a debate about whether or not their new business models
are more efficient and effective at facilitating brand integration deals than the traditional
Hollywood model. Will they essentially knock out the middleman?
Three-month-old Embed, which Scout is using on its Dorchester project, claims its online
transactional model brings increased transparency and immediacy to placement deals. All
subscribing clients can view what projects are available and bid from a base price set by
NextMedium CEO Hamet Watt thinks, by merging trading infrastructure with
accountable measurement, his system can help clients justify incremental branded
entertainment spending. “Product integration is usually bundled with other buys, or it
might come out of a communications or PR budget,” said Watt. “There’s no
standardization—people are using Post-it notes and Excel spread sheets.”
Media Matchmaker, which launched its site in March, said its process can save clients
hundreds of hours of wasted time searching for qualified business prospects. In addition
to prescreening prospects, the company’s technology helps clients keep up with the
exploding number of product integration offerings, said CEO Betsy Green.
But others question just how viable the new services are in a relationship-driven business,
where deals are a toss of favors and value-added. Some argue that they’ll have to
convince a critical mass of major producers—like the broadcast and cable networks and
film studios—to use them in order to provide the scalability needed by big marketers.
That critical mass isn’t there yet, said Guy McCarter, U.S. director, entertainment
marketing for Omnicom’s OMD. But he hopes it will be in the coming six months.
“We’re intrigued by the robustness of the [Embed] offer,” he said, “both from the
potential to identify integration opportunities for our clients and to research and evaluate
on a post- analysis basis.”
Yet he’s taking a wait-and-see approach while testing execution on behalf of a roster that
includes Nissan and JC Penney. “A rate card kind of commoditization isn’t something
that I would be pushing for,” he said. “Due to the scale and volume of clients that we
have, as well as our clout in the TV marketplace, we are always going to want to feel that
we can negotiate the best deal for our client.”
Production company Reveille (The Biggest Loser and The Office) is giving Embed a shot
for CBS’ Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest, among others. Branded entertainment vp David
Norton said he signed on for its “ability to streamline and give the proof of delivery.” He
added, “The thing I most get asked is, ‘How did I do?’ Marketers want to see the value.”
Like Embed, Media Matchmaker has made converts of some in the industry while
prompting questions from others. Shortly after the service launched in the spring,
Palisades MediaGroup used it to buy an integration for client QuikDrop in the syndicated
show Countdown to Draft Day; the deal took two weeks.
“People will always know to go to Fox for American Idol, but where are you going to go
for syndicated content or one-off programming?” remarked Corey Weiss, vp, Integrated
Marketing & Promotions, Palisades. “It allows producers to find more nimble brands
rather than having to deal with the behemoths, who allocate their dollars anywhere from
six to 18 months in advance.”
But, McCarter noted, Media Matchmaker does not provide clients with evaluation
metrics. And the service also needs to expand its base of integration opportunities to
provide scalability. Still, he said, “We’re talking to them.”
Prime-time network placements jump-ed 30 percent from 2004 to 2005, and accounted
for 21 percent more time, according to Nielsen Media Research. Yet, only 30 percent of
the roughly $4.2 billion that went to product integrations last year involved an exchange
of coin; barters and freebies made up the balance.
“There’s still a major disconnect between the technology-driven mentality of Silicon
Valley and the entitlement approach to big media largely dominated by East Coast
media,” said Tim Hanlon, svp, ventures, Publicis’ Denuo.
As technology introduces fresh entrants to branded entertainment, what impact will it
have on Hollywood’s relationship-based rites of deal-making? And it remains to be seen
how many and what type of brand integration players will embrace an electronic way of
“I really don’t think that the relationships are going to go away,” said Reveille’s Norton.
Devery Holmes, president and COO, Norm Marshall & Associates, agreed. She stressed
the need to “make sure that the right stakeholders are around the table” and cautioned that
the deeper strategic opportunities “are not necessarily on the page,” but allowed that
NMA “very well may use these services.”
“Will they replace companies like Norm Marshall?” wondered Norton. “I don’t know.
Time will tell.”
July 24, 2006
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 8
LENGTH: 368 words
HEADLINE: Critics weigh in on TV's fall shows;
REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: Many at confab wary of nets' serialized dramas
BYLINE: CLAIRE ATKINSON
[pasadena, calif.] Marketers made their judgments about the coming TV season back
in May. This month, it was the critics' turn, as hundreds gathered here at the
Television Critics of America conference for two weeks of presentations on the fall
The collective verdict won't make or break a good show but will help drive the initial
sampling-something the networks may be more dependent on than ever this year
given the high number of serialized shows that require folks get hooked early or miss
out on the premise.
Most likely hit? NBC's ``Studio 60,'' from Aaron Sorkin. Surprise hit? ABC's
telenovela adaptation ``Ugly Betty.''
TV reporters from outlets as diverse as Zap2it.com, Us Weekly and The Kansas City
Star said networks, with their drama-heavy lineups, are asking too much of
audiences, and viewers will be left in the lurch when the inevitable cancellations
Before they worry about cancellations, producers must deal with the tricky new world
of brand integration. Already, savvy marketers have begun shipping their wares to
producers in in hopes they will be worked into a show. When asked about product
placement on his CBS comedy ``The Class,'' David Crane, who created ``Friends,''
said: ``Someone's already sent us a box of Victoria's Secret underwear and a box of
Tupperware.'' Mr. Crane said he's not sure he has much use for frilly panties, but if
something fits, the writers will work it in.
Jeff Greenstein, a member of the production team at ABC's ``Desperate
Housewives''-said he'll include a brand if it's one he already likes. But he added that
he's pushed hard against integrations on other shows he's worked on when it didn't
John Wells, the executive producer of ``ER'' and ``West Wing'' now helming crime
thriller ``Smith'' for CBS, appeared enthusiastic about the idea of working with
marketers as long as it didn't impinge on his work. But he laments that deadlines
rarely work out; deals generally come in during the second cycle of a hit show. Some
things that might get airtime on ``Smith,'' which stars Ray Liotta, are websites
showing how crimes might be committed. Mr. Wells was astounded by what he found
online. Sponsorships, anyone?
GRAPHIC: Art Credit: "Smith": Ray Liotta stars in CBS thriller.
LOAD-DATE: July 26, 2006
June 5, 2006
SECTION: SPECIAL REPORT: DIGITAL MEDIA; Pg. S-1
LENGTH: 977 words
HEADLINE: It's a Screen Play;
Keep tailored messages short, and make sure all media work together
BYLINE: DAISY WHITNEY
All screens are not created equal.
That's why, amid the new-media zeitgeist of this year's upfront TV selling season,
marketers and their agency envoys are scrambling not just to craft messages for
multiple screens but also to understand the consumer experience of advertising on
everything from plasma TVs and computer screens to cellphones and video-enabled
As broadcast and cable networks now offer actual programming, rather than just
cute promotional gimmicks, that extends well beyond the living-room TV, media
agencies are likewise defining metrics and best practices for the digital age of
content without borders.
In this new programming paradigm, the user experience-how consumers interact
with programming and ads on screens of different sizes-is all that matters, says
Stacey Lynn Koerner, president of the consumer experience practice at Interpublic
Media. ``[Ads] should be different because people use different screens differently,''
she says. The problem for advertisers is that metrics aren't available to compare
performance across all platforms. ``No one has had a true need on an industry level
to understand all screens.''
Until now. How advertisers define audiences and the relative weight of different
viewing experiences in this new-media world order will become crucial. Some
advertisers, such as Johnson & Johnson for Splenda sweetener, have already created
content for multiple screens, from 30-minute infomercials to short vignettes for the
Web, she says, asserting, ``We will see a lot more advertisers doing this and a lot
more best practices by the time we are at this place next year.''
So 2006 appears to be a year for laying the groundwork for the multiscreen future.
NBC has been sounding the digital gong loudly for the last several months with its
new ``TV 360'' (as in 360 degrees) philosophy that embraces content creation for
multiple platforms. This philosophy embodied the network's upfront presentations
Taking a first look
In a recent move, NBC is launching NBCFirstLook.com, a site that will run the
premieres of shows before they air on the network.
``Nothing aggregates an audience like a network TV show,'' says Jeff Zucker, CEO of
NBC Universal Television Group. However, consumers ``are trying and using these
new technologies, and we want to be wherever they are, and that's why we are
going to make our content available in as many places as possible.''
But not necessarily identical content everywhere. NBC earlier this year made full
episodes of its comedy ``The Office'' available on iTunes, for download on video
iPods, the day after network broadcast. Now, NBC is creating short Webisodes of
``The Office'' to run online this summer. ``It's a different experience,'' Mr. Zucker
says, adding that in the future, marketers will also take advantage of such
``different experiences'' by retooling advertising for each screen.
Agencies' digital gurus agree.
A 5-second ad online or on a cellphone is probably more engaging in that forum than
a 15- or 30-second spot would be, says Jen Soch, VP-associate director of advanced
TV at Media-Vest USA, New York.
``Broadband now allows users to link to different areas. Eventually, we will have
[video-on-demand] ability where we can telescope and leave the VOD program and
go somewhere else,'' she says. ``When we talk to our clients, we try to get them to
tailor the message for the screen.''
While TV is still the venue for the brand message to hook the viewer, the small
screen can serve as a call to action, reaching the consumer at the point of purchase,
where they're looking for information, searching for a product or ready to buy, says
Greg D'Alba, chief operating officer-ad sales and marketing at CNN Ad Sales, which
offers digital extensions in streaming video, wireless, podcasting, VOD as well as
But just because programmers offer something for all screens doesn't mean
advertisers will choose to play in all. A marketer with a smaller budget may go
straight to the Internet with ads on a broadband channel, such as CBS' Innertube,
rather than make a network buy, says Jo Ann Ross, president-network sales at CBS.
Also, some advertisers may want to take advantage of broadband to create longer
spots that deliver more detailed information.
Some advertisers have already accrued early wisdom in the digital marketplace.
When Kraft Foods introduced a campaign late last year for its Tassimo hot beverage
system, Ogilvy Interactive engineered a product integration on NBC's ``The
Apprentice: Martha Stewart'' to create awareness, then partnered with Yahoo to
create a store locator, says Maria Mandel, partner-executive director of digital
innovation at the agency.
Even as each screen is suited for a different type of ad, the screen media need to
work together. A 30-minute cooking show could include product placement from a
marketer on-air, a clip from that same marketer in front of a 5-minute broadband
video piece on how to prepare a particular meal and a sponsored recipe delivered to
a mobile phone with a coupon attached. ``It's really important to understand the
role different screens have and to figure out the different ways of connecting
consumers,'' Ms. Mandel says.
Those decisions will be driven in part by what audience the marketer is targeting.
Ms. Soch says MediaVest client EarthLink reaches different demos by spreading its
advertising across nearly all screens, including traditional TV, VOD, TiVo, broadband,
mobile and video podcasts.
But convincing some advertisers to create unique video podcast content is tough
because the audience is still small, says Tracey Scheppach, VP-video innovations
director for Starcom USA, Chicago. When they do, they'll need to remember that
consumers approach the iPod as a leisurely device, but view other mobile platforms
such as cellphones and BlackBerries as more work-related.
GRAPHIC: Art Caption: Video venues: U.S. households overall spent an average of
$1,202 during the past year on consumer electronics, including devices that offer
video. Penetration of such screen devices. * Screening process: Advantages of
various screen media for advertisers
LOAD-DATE: June 7, 2006
Copyright 2006 Crain Communications
All Rights Reserved
May 22, 2006
SECTION: SPECIAL REPORT: MARKETING TO MEN; Pg. S-4
LENGTH: 664 words
HEADLINE: Want to get guys? Be tough;
Marketers like Amp'd seeking impact, dial in to high testosterone shows
BYLINE: JANET STILSON
Put together bikes on dirt tracks, bull riders and behemoths with names like ``The
Alaskan Assassin'' and you can almost smell testosterone in the air. Those are the
ingredients in an advertising strategy created by a fledgling cell phone company,
Amp'd Mobile, on the trail of its target audience, young males.
Amp'd, which launched its entertainment-rich cellphone service about six months
ago, is trying to outshine powerful cellphone rivals with a series of branded
entertainment deals that involve TV channels and edgy sporting events.
There's the Amp'd deal to be the official wireless carrier of Professional Bull Riders,
whose events turn up on OLN and NBC. There was another deal with the mixed-
martial-arts organization Ultimate Fighting Championship on Spike TV's ``Ultimate
Fight Night Live'' event during April. That's when Sam ``The Alaskan Assassin''
Hogar showed up.
Then there are the branded ``Amp'd Mobile SuperCross'' motorcycle races on Speed
Channel. According to Amp'd officials, all three involved in-event branding, video
content on cellphones and media buys on the networks.
``We decided we didn't want to advertise in regular sports,'' says Seth Cummings,
senior VP-wireless content and Internet services at Amp'd. ``We wanted up-and-
comer sports that attract 18-24 men.''
Amp'd is far from alone in turning to branded entertainment as a way to attract the
male half of the population. ``Men aren't being disproportionately targeted,'' says
Alan Blum, president of branding operation Re:Vision. ``That said, among those
programs targeting men, I see an increasingly strong use of integration.''
Newcomers to the TV integration pool include Harley-Davidson Motor Co. It's been
kicking the tires on some propositions over the last few years. Then along came
``Blade,'' a series debuting on Spike this June that's spun off from a trio of films
featuring a half vampire/half man. One of the stars of the TV series is Harley's Night
a creative fit
``It requires a rather significant media position, and we're not a large buyer of
broadcast and cable,'' says Tom Watson, director-motorcycle marketing at Harley-
Davidson, in speaking of the ``Blade'' deal. The key to the Spike deal, for Harley,
was the show's creative need for a bike.
Guy Sousa, exec VP-ad sales at Fox Sports, measures the sheer growth in integrated
product placement not only with the deals that show up on air, but ``a multifold
increase in requests for proposals'' from advertisers.
That's resulted in several deals both at Fox Sports as well as its corporate sibling,
Speed. Fox Sports' ``Best Damned Sports Show Period'' ``has created unbelievable
real estate for different partners,'' says Adam Holzer, senior VP for Fox Cable Sports,
noting a basement set with branding for Coors Brewing Co.'s Keystone Light beer
and a single-sponsor football guide for Coca-Cola Co.'s energy drink Full Throttle.
In addition to the Amp'd deal, Speed has ``Tools of the Trade'' vignettes featuring
Craftsman tools and its ``Castrol Engine Block'' package of shows on the weekends.
Executives say that a big part of the integration appeal is the young male presence
online. Not surprisingly, most of the TV integration propositions include online
``I think what makes male integration unique is that it's really difficult to do,'' says
David Lawenda, senior VP-ad sales for Spike TV. ``Men, especially in the 18-34
demo, are an incredibly elusive group of consumers. They are really savvy and can
be put off by gratuitous integration.''
That said, when the deals work, they can go gangbusters. Among the clear winners
is Schick-Wilkinson Sword, which has an integrated placement deal for its Schick
Quattro razors on Spike series ``King of Vegas.''
According to John Wergeles, group brand director for men's systems at Schick, the
intent to purchase Quattro razors has increased 38% and ad awareness has tripled.
Not surprisingly, in the future, he adds, ``we'll be looking for any and all
GRAPHIC: Art Credit: All gassed up: "Blade" takes a ride with Harley-Davidson.
LOAD-DATE: May 26, 2006
April 3, 2006
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 3
LENGTH: 610 words
HEADLINE: Starbucks and Vine changes the rules;
Chain gets profits from Lions Gate film, without paying for its production
BYLINE: T.L. STANLEY Contributing: Kate Macarthur
Starbucks' unprecedented deal with Lions Gate Films to co-produce ``Akeelah and the
Bee''-and share in the film's profits-could rewrite the way marketing partnerships are
formed in Hollywood.
The agreement with Starbucks, which has already changed the way music is distributed
and promoted, demonstrates the coffee chain's growing clout in Hollywood, where
studios usually closely guard their profits and have always steadfastly refused to give
marketing partners a cut.
In this case Starbucks did not help finance the film, co-produced with Lions Gate and the
Mark Cuban/Todd Wagner-owned 2929 Entertainment, but will share in all its profit
streams, from box office to DVD, soundtrack and merchandise. Executives wouldn't talk
about the specific split. In exchange, it will use its 8,300 U.S. and Canadian stores, and
the trust it has built with millions of customers, to hype the spelling-bee movie.
The deal has renewed a debate in Hollywood about what promotional partners want from
studios in return for their support of films and other entertainment. It's long been
discussed that there could come a time when marketers want to be paid for their
participation in movie tie-ins, instead of the other way around. Hollywood, for its part,
has refused to treat marketers' real estate as a media buy and marketers haven't forced the
issue. Executives wonder, though, depending on the performance of ``Akeelah,'' if that
situation will change. Others don't see it happening.
``We don't share box office with Wal-Mart, even though they do movie promotions and
licensed merchandise boutiques and retail-tainment,'' said one senior studio executive.
``Is Starbucks' real estate more valuable than Wal-Mart's?''
Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment, said the marketer intends to give the
``Akeelah'' treatment to several feature films a year. While it hasn't yet decided a new
project, it does know the terms. ``We're not going to invest in any film,'' Mr. Lombard
said. ``We're in the first stages of monetizing the assets of our footprint.''
Starbucks brings to the table an enormous and passionate consumer base that already
trusts the marketer's entertainment picks, which includes the Grammy-winning Ray
Charles CD ``Genius Loves Company.''
Its participation, with Starbucks' employees becoming evangelists for ``Akeelah'' and
their locations reflecting its theme, is weightier than a simple media buy, said Tim Palen,
Lions Gate co-president of marketing. ``It's a partnership in every sense of the word,'' Mr.
Starbucks executives were attracted to ``Akeelah,'' which follows a young South Central
Los Angeles girl's journey from her rough-and-tumble neighborhood to the national
spelling bee, because it reinforces a sense of community, a core value of the marketer,
and has a positive, aspirational tone.
built on trust
``It's a very important part of the relationship we have with our customers,'' said Brad
Stevens, Starbucks' VP-marketing. ``They trust that we'll bring them a movie that's worth
Starbucks' campaign around ``Akeelah,'' launching this week and lasting through mid-
May, will take an ``experiential'' approach, using flashcards sprinkled around the stores
and spelling-bee-caliber words on chalkboards as a way to get customers chatting and
interacting, Mr. Stevens said.
There will be no movie posters or other traditional promotional trappings, though the
chain will have the movie's release date, April 28, and logo on its cup sleeves, a first for
The chain will stock travel-size Scrabble games-the brand plays a role in the movie-and
may host local market study sessions for spelling-bee contestants.
GRAPHIC: Art Credit: Bee Season: Flash cards spell it out for Starbucks patrons.
September 12, 2005
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 14
LENGTH: 389 words
HEADLINE: Home Made Simple may jump from online to TV;
P&G latest plan shows a healthy appetite for branded entertainment
BYLINE: JACK NEFF
Procter & Gamble Co. is considering turning its online newsletter Home Made Simple
into a weekly TV series with Discovery Networks as the package-goods marketer
shifts a growing portion of its marketing budget to branded entertainment.
Launched in 2000, Home Made Simple is a magazine-like online relationship-
marketing vehicle that shows off P&G home-care brands-including Tide, Cascade,
Febreze, Dawn, Swiffer and Mr. Clean-through cleaning tips, recipes and articles on
organizing, home decor, gardening and crafts. The site also serves as platform for
launching a raft of contests, promotions and special offers.
People familiar with the deal declined to provide specifics on the planned adaptation.
A P&G spokeswoman also declined to comment on the program or on another
upcoming branded-content venture in which P&G will extend its relationship with
Mark Burnett Productions with a placement for its flagship Tide detergent in the
initial season of NBC's ``Apprentice: Martha Stewart.''
The deals are the latest evidence that P&G hasn't lost its appetite for branded
content despite rising costs and getting caught in the crossfire of a since-resolved
legal spat between Mr. Burnett and branded-content broker Madison Road
That deal, as well as P&G's integration the year before with Mr. Burnett's
``Survivor'' on CBS, have been well-reviewed internally, according to people familiar
with P&G, particularly by one of the key decision makers, Rob Steele, group
president for North America, whose division oversees communications planning and
Should Home Made Simple hit the airwaves, P&G could bring some marketing muscle
in the form of an already established and popular Web site and online loyalty
program with 6 million opt-in subscribers.
Home Made Simple was launched by Bridge Worldwide, Cincinnati, an interactive and
relationship marketing shop. But the account shifted earlier this year to Barefoot
Advertising, Cincinnati, which hadn't handled interactive work for P&G prior to that.
The account move was prompted in part by plans to shift the focus to the TV series,
people close to the situation said. Executives of Bridge and Barefoot declined to
Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, New York, handles communications
planning and media buying for the brands involved.
CORRECTION-DATE: September 19, 2005
In "Home Made Simple may jump from online to TV," (AA, Sept. 12), it was
incorrectly reported that the program was launched by Bridge Worldwide, Cincinnati,
in 2000. Actually, the Web site originally was created as a sub-site by Women.com in
May 2000. After that site was purchased in 2001 by iVillage, which had an extensive
relationship with P&G rival Unilever, Bridge took over the program.
GRAPHIC: Art Credit: The site: Established online newsletter has 6 million opt-in
subscribers, which could give a TV show a boost.
February 13, 2006
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 1
LENGTH: 739 words
HEADLINE: The new rules of engagement;
Madison + Vine: Clients seek help navigating $5 billion terrain
BYLINE: MARC GRASER
The failure of traditional marketing solutions is putting billions of dollars of
advertising budget into play-and branded entertainment proponents are bent on
proving they are worthy recipients of the checks.
In a barnstormer of a keynote speech, John Stratton, VP-chief marketing officer at
Verizon Wireless, told the 400-strong audience at Advertising Age's Madison + Vine
conference that the ad inventory and approach used for the last 50 years ``no
``Major money is going to be in motion in the next decade and yet no one really
understands exactly where it will land or even if it will land, or just disappear
altogether,'' added Mr. Stratton, who wields a $2 billion marketing budget.
Branded entertainment might be one of the places that money will land. It has
already grown into a $5 billion business and much of the talk at the conference
emphasized that it is fast evolving beyond product integration into strategic alliances
that marry such marketer-cum-media companies as Mr. Stratton's Verizon with
others who are similarly blurring the lines.
Still there are serious challenges for those in the space. Several speakers concluded
that in the stampede toward branded entertainment, marketers are pushing through
programs that are ineffectual-or harmful-to their brands. Content providers are still
wrangling with agencies for control of those marketers' dollars. And as all three
factions grapple for answers, the consumer is getting lost in the process.
Building new bridges
``We have to identify the consumer and ask what they want,'' said Peter Dang, chief
marketing officer, Bragman Nyman Cafarelli, ``and then look for nontraditional
bridges to speak to them.''
Steven J. Heyer, CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, said marketing dollars are being
wasted for those who don't have a clear vision of their brands: ``A lot of companies
don't understand what they sell.'' Mr. Heyer doesn't see Starwood as a company that
is ``selling hotel rooms with a bed,'' he said, but as a ``distribution company'' that
can ``deliver an experience.'' (See related story, left).
Stephen Berkov, director-marketing for Audi of America, cautioned that ``you must
be very clear about what you stand for and why you deserve a place in the market,''
and that means ``you start with knowing your brand DNA.''
Panelists said advertisers need to study their audiences and better understand how
to connect emotionally in an ever-noisier environment. Traditional media don't cut it,
and even though it's difficult or impossible to measure, branded entertainment can
be a means to that end. ``The customer is in control,'' said Chris DiCesare,
Microsoft's director of Xbox marketing. ``The cornerstone is to understand how you
can engage them.''
Marketers who have overlooked that crucial first step have wasted time, energy and
money and, likely, made some misguided marriages that damaged their brand.
Hollywood's not without fault either, panelists said, sometimes sacrificing the
integrity of the story for the sake of the deal. ``A lot of people approach
entertainment as a tactic and not a strategy,'' said Paul Bricault, senior VP, the
William Morris Agency.
`Ideas and guts'
What's clear is something has to change. ``Last year I spent well over a billion
dollars buying space, time, air, hits and clicks across a multitude of mediums,'' said
Mr. Stratton. ``So if you've been selling me this stuff, you probably need to know
that I'm not perfectly happy. And I'm not alone.''
``Your clients are in trouble,'' added Mr. Stratton. ``They are looking to you to save
them.'' In the process, he said, ``your clients will fire, hire, fire, and hire agency
He added that marketers' tenure is likely to get even briefer as CEOs recognize
``how much money they are blowing on antiquated media plans,'' he said. ``So
even if your CEO really loves you-if he goes down, you're going with him.''
Success in the branded-entertainment space will ultimately require ``definition of
inventory, ideas and guts,'' said Mr. Heyer.
Frank Cooper, VP-promotions and interactive marketing at Pepsi-Cola Co. North
America, suggested there are more commonalities than differences between the
parties. ``We're all telling stories,'' he said. ``We're all trying to create meaning.''
``We have the same challenge,'' said Linda Yaccarino, exec VP-sales and marketing
at Turner Entertainment. ``Position or perish.''
contributing: alice z. cuneo, t.l. stanley
GRAPHIC: Art Credit: Heyer: Sees Starwood as distribution channel * "Your clients
will fire, hire, fire and hire agency after agency ... seeking someone--anyone--who
can help"--John Stratton * Arthur miller: Conducts Socratic panel
Art Credit: Stephanie Diani
June 26, 2006
SECTION: SPECIAL REPORT: 100 LEADING NATIONAL ADVERTISERS; Pg. S-16
LENGTH: 596 words
HEADLINE: Next leap coming for Nintendo, Sony;
VIDEO CONSOLES: Digital bells and whistles like HD play, internet connections,
infrared remotes aim to expand beyond core gamers
BYLINE: BETH SNYDER BULIK
This year's holiday season will be an exclamation point on a watershed year for the
video game industry, because both Nintendo and Sony will launch new advanced
console platforms with many first-ever features, less than a year after Microsoft
bowed its next generation similarly advanced system.
High-definition play, internet connections and a host of individual advanced features
will push the hype and marketing around all three to significant levels.
The big race among the box makers is not only to secure video gamers' affection,
but more and more to expand the market beyond the traditional or core players (See
story below on video games).
Nintendo's about-to-be-launched Wii (pronounced ``we''), formerly known as
Revolution, in particular is expected to help that broader cause. Its infrared motion
sensitive remote control that allows players to use the stick as an extension of their
arm when playing games from tennis to fishing to Mario Bros. created tremendous
buzz among fans at the industry premier show E3 in May.
``We're doing a sharp right turn, because the industry, while huge, has been around
the same $10 billion level for sometime. We needed something innovative to
broaden the market,'' says Perrin Kaplan, Nintendo VP-marketing and corporate
affairs. One focus in the Wii marketing strategy that begins in early fall will be to
supply hands-on game experiences to people from ``core gamers to soccer moms to
older people to people who have never played,'' she says. Even Wii's traditional
print, TV and web ads will have interesting twists, she adds.
New ad opportunities
And as the market grows, so will opportunities for marketers who are interested in
exploiting video games as a new advertising medium.
``Advertising in games is growing but still in its infancy in terms of truly
understanding the market potential,'' says NPD Group analyst David Riley. ``With
the online capabilities of the (Sony) PS3, (Nintendo) Wii and (Microsoft) Xbox 360,
as well as PC gaming, there's a vast new world for advertisers to explore alongside
video game developers and publishers.''
And while product placements and billboard ads have popped up in games for years,
the idea of dynamically generated advertising-where creative and messaging can be
changed by internet connectivity-is gathering momentum. In 2005, dynamic
advertising accounted for more than $56 million in sales, but is expected to grow to
more than $732 million by 2010, according to research by Yankee Group analyst
Leaders in the in-game dynamic advertising placement space include Massive (which
was acquired by Microsoft in May); IGA Worldwide, and Double Fusion. Many of the
famed software developers such as Electronic Arts and Midway also have their own
departments to help marketers place ads in games. A few agencies, the most well-
known being Publicis Groupe's Play division, also have units that specialize in video
The two dominant portable video game makers, Sony with its PSP and Nintendo with
its GameBoy and DS systems, will likely also get some kind of boost from video
game ads, though because the systems are smaller physically, space and creativity
become issues for marketers.
``Portable platforms like the Nintendo DS and PSP are certainly appropriate targets
for advertisers. As with consoles, the ads must fit into the game, not the other way
around. Smaller platforms like cellphones would work as well, though there's a lot
more creativity needed, since the ads must take up more of the screen than they
would on larger displays,'' Mr. Riley says.
GRAPHIC: Art Caption: Top video game platforms: By life-to-date unit sales in U.S.
LOAD-DATE: June 30, 2006
Copyright 2006 Crain Communications
All Rights Reserved
June 26, 2006
SECTION: SPECIAL REPORT: 100 LEADING NATIONAL ADVERTISERS; Pg. S-16
LENGTH: 571 words
HEADLINE: 'Warcraft' meets the 'Housewives';
VIDEO GAMES: There's a wide world beyond 'Mortal Kombat' as marketers strive to
reach women as well as younger, casual players
BYLINE: T. L. STANLEY
Soap-opera fans, accustomed to an array of female-targeted ads ranging from
laundry soap to lipstick, recently saw something head-turning in the middle of their
favorite daytime melodramas: a 30-second spot for a videogame meant to be played
on the handheld Nintendo DS.
The ad for ``Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day'' shows how far the
videogame industry has grown into the mainstream, with hardware marketers and
game publishers reaching out to demographics far beyond hardcore teen and young
adult male gamers.
``It's a natural evolution,'' says Craig Relyea, Buena Vista Games' VP-marketing,
``and it's a positive sign for our industry.''
Buena Vista Games is launching the ``Sims''-like ``Desperate Housewives: The
Game,'' targeting fans of the hit ABC show and casual gamers. The new division of
the Walt Disney Co. plans to develop original properties as well as games based on
its TV series and films, everything from Disney Channel's ``The Suite Life of Zach &
Cody'' to features like ``Pirates of the Caribbean.'' Marketing around those titles will
tend toward lifestyle publications and broad media outlets, not gamer books and
``We'll be looking at who's a fan of the property rather than who's playing PS3 or
Xbox 360,'' Mr. Relyea says. ``And we'll be marketing to the audience, not to the
The gaming industry realizes the value of the hardcore fans-it's those 10% of
gamers who are responsible for 25% to 30% of spending. Indeed, among the top 10
video games sold in 2005, only Nintendo's ``Pokemon Emerald'' appeals to gamers
outside a core demographic.
25% of gamers 50+
But there's life, and revenue growth, beyond the ``Warcraft'' audience. The average
game player is 33, with 25% of gamers 50-plus. Women over 18 represent a
significantly bigger chunk of the game playing population, 30%, than boys 17 and
younger, 23%, according to the Entertainment Software Association. Of the most
frequent computer game players, 44% are over 35, and 42% of online game players
are women, the ESA says.
Square Enix, a Japanese company famous for its multimillion-selling ``Final Fantasy''
franchise, is developing PC, mobile and console games with lower barriers to entry to
entice women, casual gamers and young kids.
``We need to consider those people who are playing for 5 or 10 minutes at a time,''
says Daishiro Okada, president-chief operating officer, ``and make games more
Software sales dipped this year, as they often do in transition years before next
generation game consoles come on line (See story above on consoles), but double-
digit sales increases are expected for games in 2007 and beyond, according to
Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter. Those reasons, apart from the
new consoles, include the proliferation of online game playing that has primed people
for more sophisticated titles, technology of the new gaming platforms that is making
them a home-based hub for gaming, DVD viewing, music and more, and even
The recent arrival of Xbox Live Arcade, an online system, means players can
download broad-appeal games like ``Space Invaders'' and ``Geometry Wars'' for $5
to $15, much lower than the hefty $50 console game price.
``They're [the new platforms] billed as interactive experiences instead of just
games,'' says Saneel Radia, group director of Play, a division of Publicis Groupe's
Denuo. ``That's a wonderful sales tool.''
GRAPHIC: Art Caption: Top 10 video games: By share of U.S. unit sales
May 29, 2006
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 8
LENGTH: 461 words
HEADLINE: Now Kids Can Really Play With Food;
Nestle to build Wonka brand via candy dispenser that's also a video game
BYLINE: STEPHANIE THOMPSON
Nestle is getting into the gaming business.
In what's believed to be a category first, the confection giant this fall introduces a
combination video game/candy dispenser called WonkaZoid that spokeswoman
Trisha Bowles breathlessly calls ``the most amazing product Nestle has launched in
the last 10-15 years.'' Touted as a ``boredom buster'' for kids, the product will be
distributed not only in candy stores but also in toy stores such as Toys R Us. It's the
first of an aggressive slate of new products planned over the next few years to
invigorate the company's Willy Wonka brand.
At the helm of the chocolate factory is Brian Owens, marketing director for Wonka,
who plans to put renewed resources against the No. 3 candy brand to build its wow
factor among skeptical retailers and kids.
Although Wonka trails well behind rivals Hershey and Mars, its sales actually have
increased in a category that's flat, according to Information Resources Inc. data for
the 52 weeks ended April 16 in food, drug and mass outlets excluding Wal-Mart.
Those figures show Wonka sales up 20% to $83 million.
In sales materials, Nestle cites research showing there were 248 million computer
and video games sold in 2004 (almost two per American household) and people
spend an average of 65 minutes per day playing them. That research, combined with
its own success with games on Wonka.com (a site Ms. Bowles said averages 1 million
hits a month), gives Nestle hope that the idea for a video game/candy dispenser is a
good one. The initial fleet of games,including Nerds Freeze Tag, SweeTarts Factory
Flip-In, Nerds Hockey and Shockers Shockball Showdown, is expected to be
refreshed every six months.
Nestle has spent little in measured media on Wonka-less than $1 million last year,
according to TNS Media Intelligence. But WonkaZoid will get dedicated 15- and 30-
second spots for kids cable and network TV as well as print. In-store displays also
will be crucial. Nestle wouldn't confirm its agency, but the company is thought to be
working with Dailey & Associates. Los Angeles.
If WonkaZoid does in fact take off, the product itself could be a great branding tool,
said James Belcher, senior analyst at eMarketer.
``Games give you a more intimate relationship with the brand and, in the case of a
game/dispenser, every time you go to play the game, the candy is there,'' Mr.
Belcher said. As people's media patterns shift, that one-on-one relationship becomes
priceless. For now, however, retailers presented with WonkaZoid are skeptical that
consumers will shell out $5 to $7 for a Wonka-branded item, even if it is a video
game complete with a built-in candy dispenser.
Why Nestle likes WonkaZoid...
* Higher price point: $5-$7
* Video games are hot: 248 million sold in 2004
May 8, 2006
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 3
LENGTH: 592 words
HEADLINE: Microsoft steps up to online-ad plate;
Giant unveils AdCenter at summit attended by 700 from ad-world elite
BYLINE: ABBEY KLAASSEN
[redmond, wash.] Microsoft to advertisers: We're ready to play ball. That message
was loud and clear even before the software giant rented out Seattle's Safeco Field.
More than 700 of Microsoft's top advertisers made the trek to Redmond for
Microsoft's annual Strategic Account Summit last week, which included closing-night
batting practice at the home of the Seattle Mariners. The invitation-only event has
grown so popular among marketers and agencies that a ticket placed on eBay by
Microsoft's marketing team went for $700. Even the weather turned out-the clear,
sunny sky giving way to stunning views of Mount Rainier.
If there was any doubt how important advertising has become within Microsoft-and
how critical the launch of its AdCenter platform to serve ads to the company's
search, software, gaming and TV products-it was that both Microsoft Chairman Bill
Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer spent time at the May 2-4 summit. Group M chair
Irwin Gotlieb, IPG Media topper Mark Rosenthal, Universal McCann chief Nick Brien
and Starcom CEO John Muszynski all showed up to see panels and speakers that
included a group as diverse as WPP Group's Martin Sorrell, hip-hop-artist-cum-
businessman Jay-Z and adman-turned-talk-show-host Donny Deutsch.
``This year the online-advertising business will surpass print and I think print lies
about their numbers,'' charged Joanne Bradford, corporate VP-global sales and
marketing at Microsoft, as she opened the summit May 3.
early, not late?
Microsoft has much riding on AdCenter, its bold move to get back into the online-ad
game after lagging behind Google and Yahoo. AdCenter's biggest immediate impact
will be in the lucrative search space, where MSN's 11% share lags Google and
Yahoo's 49% and 22.5%, respectively.
Mr. Ballmer was his usual effusive self, insisting that Microsoft wasn't late but on the
early wave of a next-generation technology change. ``Literally 10 years from now
everything you read you will read on a screen,'' he said, amid other Ballmerisms.
He noted that Microsoft had invested heavily in online research and development to
the tune of $2.1 billion. ``We surprised some in the financial community with that,''
Mr. Gates, as usual, was Mr. Ballmer's perfect measured foil. He was interviewed by
Mr. Deutsch in front of attendees for his CNBC TV show ``The Big Idea'' and
revealed a few rare personal anecdotes: He plays bridge online with a group of
friends every morning and will supervise his 11-year-old daughter's Internet
behavior until she's ``about 14''-but he's not yet worried since right now she
primarily just wants to buy pets she finds online.
Addressing the threat of Google, he noted ``they've done a great job on their search
and what they've done with advertising. We will keep them honest in the sense of
being able to be better at a number of those things and bring a new angle to it. ...
We're underestimated, that doesn't happen that often.''
The news that fell most flat was Microsoft Entertainment President Robbie Bach's
announcement that Microsoft was acquiring in-game advertising company Massive
(See P. 6). Other rumors plaguing the conference included one from last week's Wall
Street Journal-that one camp within Microsoft sees a partnership with Yahoo as its
entry to the mass online search share.
While no one from Microsoft addressed the issue directly, Ms. Bradford, in a panel
that also included Google's Tim Armstrong and Yahoo's Wenda Harris Millard, said,
``This whole Google-Microsoft-Yahoo thing is the Nick and Jessica of the business
GRAPHIC: Art Credit: Ballmer: Unleashing the ``-isms'' at Summit
April 3, 2006
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 4
LENGTH: 886 words
HEADLINE: Web sellers build own `upfronts';
Online video providers push inventory in advance; cinema gets in on the act
BYLINE: KRIS OSER and ABBEY KLAASSEN
Just weeks before the TV upfront market kicks off, other media are trying to grab
their share of the TV dollars by telling buyers they're holding their own ``upfronts.''
It's not a new ploy, but this year, the argument that marketers should be looking
elsewhere to park their TV budgets might actually resonate, as money can shift to
other, more measurable channels.
``It's above the line this year because you have traditional marketers who are going
to the upfront looking to buy the digital properties,'' said Eric Valk Peterson, VP-
media director, Agency.com. ``They are trying to figure out how to get the most
bang for their investments.''
Upfronts-which in the online world are defined as any time when you're selling
inventory in advance-are practiced by the major portals AOL, Yahoo and MSN, as
well as sites in certain sectors like auto-specialty sites Edmunds.com and kbb.com
(Kelley Blue Book). Other video-rich sites, including news purveyors and sites
devoted to showing video clips, also find themselves selling large swaths of inventory
early in the year. Cinema ad sellers are also jumping in with upfront events.
The Web, much like TV, does have certain inventory that is always in high demand,
and much of that is around broadband video. In the 2005 fourth quarter, for
example, AOL had sold out its video inventory for In2TV, its classic TV programming,
through 2006. Yahoo, MSN and other video-rich sites typically sell out certain
sectors, like entertainment, financial services and travel by the end of January.
Cinema sells up to 80% of its inventory between October and December and only
10% in the spring.
So certain non-TV upstarts are beating their own drums to distract media buyers in
the run up to the May upfront presentations from the broadcast networks.
Take Heavy.com. The laddie-oriented site, which serves up jokey, shocking, gross,
sexy and just plain goofy video clips, much of it user-generated, for an audience of
mostly 18-to-34-year old males, is launching an upfront this spring to tout its slate
of six new shows. The programs include ``The Massive Mating Game,'' a dating
game played with cellphones, and ``The Manly-Man Games,''an Olympics for the
ordinary guy. Heavy executives will call on media agencies during the TV upfronts.
The rationale behind the move is simple. As marketers show more interest in digital
properties, ``We might be able to pre-empt those dollars going into TV,'' David
Carson, co-CEO, Heavy.com said. ``They are calling it an upfront, but it's really just
a way to get people to buy inventory early [at a time when] traditional buyers are
trying to get the most bang for their investments,'' said Eric Valk Peterson, VP-media
Heavy's Mr. Carson pointed out that because much of his site's advertising consists
of customized branded placements or integrated sponsorships, he needs to square
away his sales so his staff can focus on building those unique ads. One example: a
Heavy-created clip called ``Pimp My Weapon'' that features the characters in the
Sony video game ``God of War.'' While some buyers and publishers accept that
because of the customized nature of Heavy's ads, it does have a limited supply to
offer, most said an interactive upfront is not necessary.
``It's a great publicity stunt,'' said Michael Barrett, exec VP, AOL Media Networks.
``Mission accomplished: You're doing a story.''
But Heavy is also zeroing in on a very real trend in which more and more media
agencies and marketers are breaking down the silos between various video
advertising media. This could be the first year that marketers begin to think about
video as a concept in which buckets of dollars slated for video ads could be
distributed across a number of channels, including TV, online and cinema. Of
advertisers polled at the ANA TV Ad Forum last month about whether the TV upfront
should now include cinema, online and other media, 37% said yes, 59% said no and
4% weren't sure.
At the Forum, American Express VP-global media James Hedleston said his company
had reclassified TV as ``rolling video stock''-a term that encompasses cinema, pre-
roll online video, video podcasts and traditional TV. ``We capture the most valuable
impressions first,'' he said, going after ``the most engaged channels-cinema, opt in
media such as paid search, and then use TV and other media to sweep up the rest of
One of Heavy's main competitors, iFilm.com, which was bought by Viacom for $49
million, is also seeing online video as one aspect of a larger video package. ``This is
the first year I'm seeing agencies talk about online video [which skews heavily
toward viewers at work] as an actual daypart.''
Screenvision, one of two players in the cinema advertising space with almost 14,000
theater screens, hosted an upfront event in March, which included a panel discussion
on the state of the film industry. But more of their business, they find, is done on a
calendar year basis, leading them to consider moving their upfront to the fall.
``Cinema is speaking the same language as broadcast TV now,'' said Jason Brown,
senior VP-ad sales for Screenvision. ``We estimate and post off of Nielsen, we're in
the IMS planning systems and we're moving into developing engagement metrics.
It's a great way to extend the broadcast week.
GRAPHIC: Art Credit: Heavy.com: selling ads early in year. * Touting testosterone:
Two of the six original shows solicited by heavy.com in its upfront for advertisers.
LOAD-DATE: April 5, 2006
Project ID: 0002