P&G MELDS PRODUCTS INTO ENTERTAINMENT CONTENT

Signs Pringles Game Program Deal With Cable TV Network

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Procter & Gamble Co. continues to integrate its products into entertainment content through a multimillion-dollar deal to title a program with its Pringles brand on the new 24-hour video-game channel, G4.

"This relationship between Pringles and G4 is a great example of how strategic partnerships enable our brands to better connect with target consumers," said Jim Stengel, P&G's global marketing officer. "It's about being where the consumer wants to be."

'Cheat!' guide
The program, "Cheat! Pringles Gamers Guide," will launch later this month featuring the salted snack and its "Mr. P" spokescharacter within the half-hour show, during commercial breaks and as part of special interstitials including an online poll of favorite games or "cheat codes," the results of which will be shared during the show itself.

Julie Eddleman, North American Pringles brand manager, said the company sees the partnership as "an opportunity to get in at the beginning of something that will hit our prime prospect in a unique way." She compared the launch of G4 with the MTV launch, and pointed to gaming as possibly "the last area of TV where there is growth and exposure."

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According to Dale Hopkins, senior vice president of distribution and sales at Comcast-owned G4, gaming was a roughly $10 billion business last year, making it the fastest-growing entertainment form even above movies. According to A.C. Nielsen EDI, U.S. box-office receipts last year were $8.13 billion.

6 million homes
The digital-tier network launched May 1 in 6 million homes, featuring programming highlighting the latest video-game news, tips and tricks and behind-the-scenes looks at celebrity gamers. Ms. Hopkins said the network hopes to reach 8 million homes by 2003 based on the strength of interest in the genre from roughly 145 million Americans ages 12 to 34. That growing interest is what sparked the tie with P&G as well as advertising from Microsoft and the U.S. Navy among others.

The deal was forged by Grey Worldwide's Alliance, an entertainment development and strategic partnership firm and sibling to P&G roster shop Grey Global Group. "For the demographic Pringles is trying to reach [13- to 24-year-olds], traditional advertising doesn't penetrate, or at least does only slightly compared to what it did 10 years ago," said Alliance CEO Jarrod Moses. "If [your marketing] is intrusive, you're going to lose them, so you have to provide entertainment that's an asset to their life."

Video gaming, Mr. Moses said, has been underestimated and is actually the "most utilized media vehicle in the world for this target."

Product integration
P&G has inked a variety of deals recently with entertainment companies, including cross-media deals with Viacom and Discovery Communications that are to include, among other things, product integration.

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