Monday, August 11, 2008

Product Integration Is Increasingly Acceptable Everywhere on TV

They may be purists, but they'll get over it if they need to.

- Ilene Chaiken, creator of The L Word series on Showtime

In Claude Brodesser-Akner, "On Ad-Less L Word, Brands Become Part of Plot," Advertising Age, August 7, 2008

Chaiken is referring to the concern writers might have about writing marketing messages into episodes of The L Word episodes. The L Word is much-discussed series about lesbians on Showtime, a subscription network with no commercials. Ratings suggest that the program attracts a bit over 300,00 prime time viewers aged 18-49 each week. Research further suggests that these viewers are mostly upscale females--the kinds of consumers advertisers covet. With production costs rising, Showtime agreed with Chaiken about the acceptable of inviting marketers to pay to be included in the program. The network gave Chaikin "the power to control all brand integration for the show's final season, as well as for a spin-off series launching on the network next year."

Advertising Age has learned that for $300,000 a marketer can buy an "integration package" that will link the marketer's products with the show: "either incorporate a brand into existing L Word storylines or allow the brand to work with the show's writers to create customized storylines, participating in one episode or across several. " Although this type of blunt sales approach may be unusual for a subscription channel, it is becoming the norm across many television channels. Another Advertising Age article on the same day tells of a new small-business makeover/advice series on the A&E cable network called We Mean Business for which Dell will not only be the exclusive technology sponsor, it will "will be integrated throughout the half-hour episodes, from laptops and servers to point-of-purchase solutions to help streamline costs and day-to-day operations for local businesses such as bakeries, specialty stores and salons. "

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