CNN Network Tries In-Show Mentions

Host Glenn Beck Plugs Mattress Maker on Headline News

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NEW YORK -- Every weekday on his morning talk show, Glenn Beck takes 60 seconds out of his three-hour program to talk about one of several dedicated sponsors he's had since going on the air since 2001. Bose, Bill's Khakis and are among the brands Mr. Beck has been plugging on-air and using in real life.

Glenn Beck gave an on-air mention to mattress maker Select Comfort.

But two weeks ago, when Mr. Beck reported to his other job at CNN's Headline News, he brought one of his longtime marketers with him -- mattress maker Select Comfort, which became the network's first advertiser to get an on-air mention during a newscast. It's a far cry from Christiane Amanpour drinking a Pepsi while reporting on the war in Iraq, but it's an intriguing sign of the direction CNN's Greg D'Alba is looking to take what he calls "multimedia purchasing opportunities."

'Full-scale strategy': content integration
"The relationship CNN has with the user and the viewer is continuing to grow," said Mr. D'Alba, the news network's exec VP-chief operating officer of ad sales. "Our full-scale strategy has always been content integration for our advertisers, and these live, on-air entitlements provide a value proposition for specific advertisers on specific programs because we deemed it appropriate."

For Mr. Beck's show, plugging Select Comfort during his nightly newscast was only natural, given his established relationship with the marketer on the radio. Christopher Balfe, chief operating officer of Mercury Radio Arts, which produces the Beck program, said he has already seen similar success with several sponsors' cross-promotions on the show's website,

"Advertisers are starting to say, 'We understand you have this relationship with this person wherever they are,'" Mr. Balfe said. "If people have listened to your spot on the radio and watched it on TV, if they see it on the web with a button that says, 'click here,' it's the best way to capture that customer."

Nontraditional dayparts, formats
The Beck partnership is also the latest example of TV advertisers looking to engage their brands in nontraditional dayparts and formats, such as late night and cable news. ABC recently moved to a product-placement model for Jimmy Kimmel's late-night talk show to fend off the commercial ratings drop-off during ad breaks.

Mr. D'Alba said that although Mr. Beck's show is among the network's most DVR-ed programs, he didn't factor commercial ratings into his reasoning for doing the Select Comfort deal. "We just felt the format and nature of the program lends itself to on-air mentions more readily than others. It's meant to provide a different connection for our content, and this program and others are capable of doing it."

In addition to Mr. Beck, Headline News's other personality-based shows such as "Showbiz Tonight" and "Nancy Grace" could take on similar on-air ad models with sponsors, said Ken Jautz, exec VP, CNN Worldwide. "Headline News is positioned as an alternative to CNN, and we have a series of point-of-view shows that are not traditional newscasts. We don't position the hosts as traditional journalists, so in that context we can try out new initiatives with 'Headline News' more so than with CNN."
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