An executive familiar with the negotiations fully expects Hearst's "Marie Claire" to replace Hachette Filipacchi's "Elle" as the new editorial partner for "Project Runway" when it moves to Lifetime, following "Runway" judge Nina Garcia's new gig as fashion director, effective in September.
Other sponsors' plans
Spokespeople for the show's other main sponsors, L'Oreal Paris, Saturn and Tresemme, were a bit cagier on the details of their future plans. A Saturn spokesman said the auto marketer isn't ready to discuss future seasons but that the brand has been in touch with the Weinstein Co. to discuss future contract negotiations. He did, however, point to a series of 30-second vignettes the marketer made for season five to promote the 2009 Saturn Vue Hybrid.
Executives for L'Oreal were not available for comment, but several blogs have reported that the Weinstein Co.'s Harvey Weinstein has approached the Procter & Gamble brand to buy back the hair-care-sponsor slot, currently held by Alberto Culver's Tresemme, for season six. L'Oreal was the exclusive hair and beauty partner for season one.
A spokeswoman for Alberto Culver had no official comment on the negotiations with the Weinstein Co. but said she expects a final decision to be made in the next several weeks.
Heightened production costs
Whoever makes the final cut for season six on Lifetime, however, will have to pay a significant chunk of change to make up for heightened production costs. Reports valued Lifetime's five-year deal at more than $1 million per episode, compared with the $600,000 Bravo paid. According to TNS Media Intelligence, advertisers spent a total of $20.9 million on season four, which ran from Oct. 1, 2007, to March 31, 2008. That means a sponsor such as L'Oreal, which spent more than $911,000 on the show during that time period, could have a deal that goes well into the seven figures if it re-ups with Lifetime, which will need $30 million a season to recoup its deal with the Weinstein Co.
Additionally, Mr. Weinstein is reported to have been asking for as much as $8 million for the new sponsorship deals, with only the revenue from the ad time the marketer buys for the show going to Lifetime.
Also onboard for Bravo's season five are Bluefly, returning for a second season as the show's retail partner; Brother International, the company that supplies the show with its sewing and embroidery machines; and American Express, which is presenting a weekly web after-show, "Watch What Happens: After the Sew Live."