OMD Snares Sci-Fi Exclusive

Clients get integration in scripted miniseries

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%%STORYIMAGE_LEFT%% Omnicom Group's OMD Worldwide secured all the commercial time and product-placement rights for its clients in a new Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, "5 Days to Midnight." Eight of its clients will monopolize ad time and exposure in the series.

While product integration is increasingly popular, it is still confined largely to non-scripted programming such as reality shows, although many believe it will expand eventually to scripted programming.

Nissan Motor Corp., McDonald's Corp., Visa USA, Federal Express, Sony PlayStation, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Cingular Wireless and Clorox Co. will have their brands integrated into the five-part series and will also advertise during the show. The total package, according to executives with knowledge of the deal, is valued at around $3 million.

OMD and its clients are not funding production of the program, but Debbie Richman, U.S. director of national broadcast at OMD, said that could be an option in upcoming projects.

"This is the mother of all integrated deals," said Kevin McAuliffe, senior VP-cross platform initiatives at Sci-Fi umbrella Universal Television Networks. "We could get 12 advertisers[through OMD]. We are sharing the script with the brands and working them into the storylines."

"It's an exclusive deal," said Jeff Lucas, president-advertising sales, Universal. "In order to make the show happen we had to allow OMD own the whole thing." "5 Days" (originally titled "Six Days 'Til Sunday") is about a single parent whose wife died on their daughter's birthday. While visiting her grave, he finds a briefcase with the details of a murder plot. It turns out that he is the intended victim and has five days to prevent his own murder. The show, created by Lion's Gate Films, begins shooting in December. It is scheduled to air in primetime in June 2004, on five consecutive evenings.

%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% "The beauty of it is that our largeness allowed us to take it over," said Richman. "And it allows our clients, no matter the size of their own individual spend, to take advantage of it and get an exclusive position."

Richman and Guy McCarter, senior VP, director of OMD Entertainment, engineered the project

"It obviously gave OMD more leverage on my behalf," said Peter Sterling, VP-U.S. marketing for McDonald's Corp. "We're looking to integrate ourselves into scripted programming and we're looking for ways to bring our product to life in a very organic way."

Contributing: Kate MacArthur

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