|The bald-headed bodyguard turned talk-show host is taking "The Steve Wilkos Show and HeadBlade Summer Tour" on the road in key markets for the next two months.|
A local event co-hosted by the St. Baldrick's Foundation also will be incorporated into each visit to benefit children with cancer as part of an initiative called "Shaving the Way to Conquer Children's Cancer."
Britney Spears, Mr. Wilkos is not. As Ariana Squar, NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution's director of brand integration, put it, "People shaving their heads is a great way to help conquer cancer, and it's great as a show to be involved with that charity." Plus, Mr. Wilkos was already a dedicated HeadBlader, so the partnership was that much more seamless. (HeadBlade is a small razor specifically for the scalp.)
This is not the first time Ms. Squar has booked a sponsor for a show before it hits the air. She has done similar deals with "The Megan Mullally Show" and "Meet Mr. Mom." But they're not always easy, said Bo Argentino, the NBC syndication group's head of ad sales.
"We've done it many times in the past, but it's always a more challenging sell," Ms. Argentino said. "Not only is the performance not proven, you don't always know what the show is going to be like."
A decade-plus track record in daytime helps when marketing personalities such as Mr. Wilkos, Ms. Argentino added. "Certainly there are shows that lend themselves pretty easily to integration -- variety shows, even game shows. But when you're talking about reality, single-topic and court shows, it's a pretty rare instance."
Other fall shows for which Ms. Argentino and Ms. Squar are courting advertisers include "Reel Talk," a weekly movie-chat show hosted by Jeffrey Lyons. "I only wish it was a seven-day show instead of a weekly. It's such a quality show," Ms. Argentino said. "We'll have a dedicated site and opportunities for integration as well." She pointed to the success of a recent partnership between Colgate and "Access Hollywood" at the Cannes Film Festival as evidence that the appetite for entertainment-based shows in syndication is healthier than ever.
Also on tap are Merv Griffin's latest daytime game show, "Let's Play Crosswords," and "Law and Order: Criminal Intent," which will become the first drama in 15 years to be offered to stations as counterprogramming to sitcoms airing in late-afternoon dayparts.