BD&A Will Be Connecting Brands to 'Idol' Till 2010

Agency, Which Handles Show's Merchandising Deals, Renews Contract

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NEW YORK -- "American Idol" airs on Fox from January to June only, but its sponsors have been engaging diehard fans year-round.
The hit reality show's merchandising partners include Coke, Dreyer's and Kellogg.

Bensussen, Deutsch & Associates (BD&A) has been keeping the show's many brand partners alive in the retail and out-of-home spaces through merchandising partnerships that go beyond what CEO Jay Deutsch refers to as "trinkets and trash."

"Anyone can slap a logo on something, but who's going to use it?" he said. "You don't want to make things that will end up in a landfill. You want your product to have a life."

Generated $200 million in revenue

BD&A will continue to bring life to "Idol" sponsors in the coming years, having just renewed its contract through 2010. The agency has generated $200 million in revenue in 2006, and expects to increase its haul to $300 million this year. Though the task of securing the "Idol" sponsors is handled by U.K.-based Fremantle Media, BD&A has acted as an intermediary between Fremantle and Fox for all sponsored integrations since the show's U.S. inception in 2002.

"We're the ones saying, 'I don't know if that's going to work,'" Mr. Deutsch said. "We consider ourselves the brand mavens. We understand how to transfer brands into merchandise."

Partnerships include companies such as Dreyer's, which partnered with the agency for a series of Edy's ice-cream bowls that come branded with the "Idol" logo and an Edy's slogan.

Kellogg, meanwhile, sponsors the "Idol" summer concert tour, which connected to fans through free samples of Kellogg's food products and visible booths and banners.

Coca-Cola-branded director's chairs

The agency's most successful "Idol" tie-in to date has been its director's chairs for Coca-Cola, which began selling in Speedway stores this year. Mr. Deutsch would next like to leverage the association into other channels, such as My Coke Rewards, to take the sponsorship beyond the family-friendly market of grocery chains.

"'American Idol' doesn't just reside with one demo," he said.

Outside of "Idol," BD&A has been partnering with sports leagues on giveaways and promotions for two decades now. Mr. Deutsch founded the agency in 1984, originally as a sports-merchandising company. He now counts Major League Baseball Properties as one of his biggest clients.

While similar companies focus on event-based merchandising projects, what positions BD&A uniquely, Mr. Deutsch said, is its ability to focus solely on brand associations across all platforms and venues. "We don't compete, we partner. We want to make sure your brand is handled right."
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