CYBERCRITIQUE: Levi's, the WB walk a fine line in Lot 53 promo

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MARKETERS: Levi Strauss & Co. and the WB Network

FIND IT AT: levi.com

CRITIQUE: This is the kind of promotion that frightens us. Product placement is not new. Tie-ins between TV shows and various consumer products have been increasing recently. "Dawson's Creek" tells viewers which songs are on its soundtrack each episode so that you can buy the CD with the perilously catchy Slugs song on it. And magazines have long run lists of the clothing worn by the celebrities in their photos.

Now, Levi Strauss & Co. has teamed with the WB to outfit the kids on the series "Roswell" in a promotion called Lot 53. The cast wears Levi's clothing; a joint site-complete with online chats with the characters-promotes the show and the jeans its characters wear.

It's a strong link, and one likely to sell some jeans.

But here's what scares us: Interactive TV-like the kind where you can `click' on a TV show and buy whatever it is the hip kids are wearing-is right around the corner. So, no, product placement is not new. But it has always been a slippery-when-wet slope balancing the forces of editorial/entertainment vs. sales. Interactive TV is poised like a fireman at the top of that slope, waiting for its cue to turn on the hose and let it rip.

WHO CREATED IT: Convergence Me- dia Group, San Francisco.

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