Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Turner's Upfront Pitch: Integrate Your Brand In Every Conceivable Niche

INSERT YOUR BRAND HERE WAS the message a parade of Turner Broadcasting executives delivered Tuesday at an upfront event. Forget any backlash about product placement, the executives repeatedly told advertisers. The company is more than willing to find ways to slip or emphasize a brand in its programming going forward.

"Creating a future together" is how Linda Yaccarino, executive vice president, general manager of Turner Entertainment Sales and Marketing, described it.
"We're on board," added Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks. "We see this as a two-way street."

As Koonin cited examples he deemed an "integration success" over the past year--including linking with comedy "My Boys" and Cheez-It in "10 Items or Less" on TBS--he also noted mobisodes affiliated with "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" and brand mentions in new interstitials, known as "bitcoms," as coming ad opportunities.

"Bitcoms" are designed, in part, to build viewer retention going into a commercial pod--particularly relevant as commercial ratings are launched. As a break starts, stand-up comedians deliver a small set leading into the ads. Koonin cited a comic commenting on Oreo Double-Stufs, followed by a spot for the brand, as an example of advertiser integration with the shorts.

In a similar vein, Turner will try to keep viewers on TBS with a plug to stay tuned for a funny commercial. It also plans to continue to highlight ads themselves, via specials on TBS focusing on humorous spots and the Web site "We have real evidence that people will seek out commercials--very funny commercials," Koonin said.

At TNT, advertisers can take the ongoing opportunity to serve as single sponsors of commercial-free premieres, with Toyota sponsoring the third-season premiere this summer of hit drama "The Closer."

Turner also announced several new shows coming to TBS this summer, including "The Bill Engvall Show," with the eponymous actor serving as a family counselor, whose own family could benefit from guidance, and the Tyler Perry show. The comedy "My Boys" is returning this summer. TBS also is trying to upgrade a late-night franchise with "The Frank Show," starring master impressionist Frank Caliendo.
Meanwhile, at TNT, the summer slate includes "Saving Grace," an hour-long drama with Oscar winner Holly Hunter as a "fast-living" Oklahoma City detective; "Heartland," set in the "high-tension world" of organ donors; and "The Company," a six-hour limited series about CIA activity in the Cold War.

by David Goetzl, Wednesday, Mar 14, 2007 8:00 AM ET

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