FYI 09.25.08

Three Carmakers Rev up Their Brands for TV Projects

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Automakers are dialing up their branded integrations this fall.

For the first time, Turner Network Television has developed a microseries based on a marketer's brand. Ford Motor Co.'s luxury Lincoln 2009 MKS sedan will be prominently featured in the storyline of "RPM," a murder mystery that will air in two-minute bursts within the commercial breaks of "Law & Order" from Oct. 21-29.
Peter 'Hopper' Stone
Peter 'Hopper' Stone Credit: (From l.) Brian White and Jonathan Schaech with the Lincoln MKS on the set of "RPM"

Mandalay Television's Elizabeth Stephen, the series' executive producer, brought the project to the cable network and Lincoln. TNT is promoting "RPM" with significant on-air and online promotions, also presented by Lincoln, and will drive viewers to watch all 20 "RPM" episodes and added content on TNT.tv.

Chrysler is launching its best-selling model, the Dodge Ram, with a slew of branded-integration deals. The pickup is the exclusive auto sponsor of NBC's new reality show "America's Toughest Jobs," developed by Thom Beers, producer of "Deadliest Catch," "Ice Road Truckers" and "Ax Men." In addition, actor Brian Austin Green drives the 2009 Dodge Ram on Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," and the vehicle plays a prominent role in the Sept. 29 and Oct. 6 episodes. Both deals include online tie-ins and consumer sweepstakes.

Toyota's luxury division, Lexus, introduced its online branded broadband channel, LStudio.com, this week. The site, self-billed as a "celebration of innovation," offers a montage of videos, including a series called "Web Therapy," written, produced and starring "Friends" actress Lisa Kudrow, who plays a shrink.

Intelligent Life Productions, Los Angeles, brought the idea and all the concepts to Lexus via its ad agency, Team One, El Segundo, said Sandy Blanchard, manager-owner experience at the automaker. She said Lexus hopes the effort will attract younger buyers, aged 25 to 45. (Lexus said the average age of its owners is 55.) She promoted the site with some 700,000 e-mails to owners and so-called hand-raisers, or those who have shown an interest in purchasing a Lexus.
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