|The show is a 'perfect fit' for Ford vehicle giveaways, said Curt Jakson, a senior partner at J. Walter Thompson, Detroit.
The move is part of a larger product integration agreement that will showcase Ford's brand and products in six upcoming Extreme Makeover episodes. The family in each of the episodes is slated to get a free vehicle.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is one of ABC's more popular shows. Last Sunday's broadcast attracted 14.5 million viewers, a 8.4 household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. It ranked 21st among all prime-time broadcast network programs this week.
The reality home-renovation show, which launched at the end of 2003, is a spinoff of the original Extreme Makeover, a plastic surgery show. Hosted by celebrity carpenter Ty Pennington, each episode documents a team of bickering designers and 100 workmen descending on the home of a "deserving family" to completely renovate the interior and exterior of the structure in seven days.
"It's a perfect fit for Ford," said Curt Jakson, senior partner and group communications director at Ford's creative advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson in Detroit, part of WPP Group. The deal was initiated by the automaker's dedicated media agency, WPP's Ford Motor Media, and then passed to JWT, which is working closely with the show's producers on product integration.
The ad agency has experience in the area, having produced the short-lived No Boundaries, an outdoorsy TV show featuring Ford's sport utilities vehicles in the summer of 2000.
Construction crews on this season's Extreme Makeover also use Ford's F-150 full-size and F-Series Heavy Duty pickup trucks, while architects and designers drive other Ford models. Upcoming launch vehicles, including the all-new Freestyle, aimed at families, will be part of the show.
Mr. Jakson described Ford Division's ad time on the show as a "meaningful presence," but declined to provide specifics.
In other deals that further open Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to sponsors, AOL has signed for product integration in four upcoming episodes; Whirlpool in two; and vacuum cleaner marketer Dyson in one, said Dan Longest, senior vice president for integrated marketing and promotions at ABC, part of the Walt Disney Co. He declined to discuss the financial arrangements for product insertions into show content.
Mr. Longest said the network and marketers will work closely to identify the most appropriate shows for specific integrations.
Sears, Roebuck & Co. has been the show's leading partner since Extreme Makeover's pilot aired in December 2003. Sears gets four 30-second ad slots during the hour-long program, a spokesman said. The show's designers are seen shopping at Sears' stores for a wide variety of goods from appliances, consumer electronics and Craftsman Tools to Land's End apparel. Traffic to sears.com, linked to abc.com, increases after the TV show airs, he said.
Sears started discussions with ABC in late July 2003, said Perianne Grignon, Sears' vice president for media services. ABC sales and marketing executives showed Sears a list of five different properties. "Our immediate reaction was how can we get involved in the pilot," she said.
But Sears would only participate if the program offered "authentic and dramatic solutions" for the deserving families' improved homes. "We didn't want to count [product] placements," Ms. Grignon said. Getting genuine integration that worked was harder to do for ABC and the show's producers, she added.
Sears in the end took its chances with the program's pilot in December 2003, not knowing whether it would be successful. The show's first season started in February. Its two-hour, sophomore fall premier was Sept. 26.
Sears extended its ties to the program a few months ago by signing Mr. Pennington, the show's host, as its new advertising spokesman. Sears and will have co-branded merchandise with him in 2005. The new campaign is being put together by WPP's Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago and New York.