|Motorola's Ojo Video Phone is getting product placement and promotional exposure long before it becomes available in the stores.
The device, expected to carry a price tag of $799, premiered during the Jan. 9 season premiere of 24. The Ojo transmits full-motion video and audio over a high-speed Internet connection from one device to another.
Motorola has previously relied on placement in TV shows to generate buzz for its products, with the company citing appearances in HBO's Sex and the City and NBC's Friends as standouts. Its new slim Razr cell phone has recently been spotted in Alias, The O.C. and Without a Trace, for example.
In the two-hour 24 episode, the Ojo appeared on the desks of members of the show's Counter Terrorism Unit, with characters using the video phone to communicate with other characters working in the office or elsewhere. It will continue to be featured in the series throughout the season.
The placement for the Ojo was paired with a "24 Season 4 Premiere Radio Sweepstakes." That contest had radio stations across the country airing a five-day promotion with daily prizes of a Motorola m25 Digital Audio Player, 24 gear, and the DVD set of the series' third season. Listeners also had a chance to qualify for the grand prize of a pair of Motorola Ojo personal video phones, activation and six months of free service.
The sweepstakes aired in the nation's top 20 markets in the days leading up to 24's season premiere and will continue in the spring in conjunction with the season finale and May sweeps.
In addition, two segments aired on NBC's entertainment news magazine Extra, which showed off the Ojo's capabilities.
In one segment, Extra correspondent Jerry Penacoli interviewed 24 actress Aisha Tyler using an Ojo video phone. Mr. Penacoli said he believed "this is the very first interview to be conducted via video phone," as he spoke with Ms. Tyler about her role on the show and her career, as well as the Motorola Ojo and how it was incorporated into the show.
Another segment featured an interview with Motorola's corporate vice president and general manager, John Burke, filmed at the 2005 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. Mr. Burke described how the Ojo allows him to stay in touch with his family, especially since he is always on the road, and demonstrated its uses by placing a call to his daughter.
Burbank, Calif.-based entertainment marketing shop Creative Entertainment Services brokered Ojo's TV appearances. The company also claims Kellogg's, Fiji, Philips, Norelco and Orbitz as clients.
"Productions have been extremely receptive to showcasing the Ojo's high-tech look and capabilities within program content," said Stacy Jones, vice president of Creative Entertainment Services. "Traffic and chatter on the Internet have shown fans are definitely taking notice of this hot new product."
Creative Entertainment Services worked with 24's producers to integrate the Ojo into the show in a way that would allow its characters to show off and educate consumers of the device's capabilities.
The appearance on 24 was followed by an unveiling of the Ojo at the electronics show in Las Vegas. Attendees were able to visit Ojo demo booths to enter a "Win Me Moto Sweepstakes," which offered similar prizes as the radio sweepstakes.
Fox's 24 is no stranger to product placement. Ford Motor Co. vehicles have previously appeared in episodes, and the automaker has sponsored past season premieres of the series.
The show is attracting on average 11 million viewers per episode. The fourth season premiere generated the show's largest audience to date, 15.5 million viewers and drew a heavily male-skewing demographic.
But Motorola won't only be relying upon 24 to help promote the Ojo.
The video phone will also soon appear on ABC's hit spy series Alias, Fox's sitcom The Bernie Mac Show and the CBS comedy The King of Queens.