FYI 03.27.08

GSN Wants to Give Brands a Chance to Play

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Months before they start competing for pricing and inventory, the media agencies will be engaged in another upfront competition starting next week. GSN, formerly known as Game Show Network, will launch its first advertisers-only Upfront Online Tournament on Monday to encourage players to compete against their friends and colleagues for three 40-inch Sony TVs and an in-house party for the winning agency.

Melissa Zimmern, VP-marketing solutions for GSN, said the contest was "an opportunity for advertisers to experience firsthand what our audience experience is. ... GSN by nature is a lean-in network. You understand when people play it's for fun and to escape and to relax. Most importantly, it's so they can understand how their brand can fit into our content and messaging."

John Zaccario, the network's new senior VP-ad sales, said the competition highlights GSN's four main upfront selling points: passion to play, participation, multimedia competitive entertainment and partnership programming, or brand integration. "Brands have always fit in organically into game shows in the online space, and I think you can build games out of brands' attributes," Mr. Zaccario said. "We want to be able to partner with our customers in doing that."

As for speculation on any potential face-offs, Mr. Zaccario was diplomatic. "The rivalries that will emerge are the ones that previously existed," he said. -- Andrew Hampp
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