AOL's 'Gold Rush' Lines Up Five Sponsors

Mark Burnett's Interactive Treasure Hunt Will Work Brands Into Game

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- AOL's plan to dig up a spammer's backyard in search of gold bars to settle a lawsuit leads us very nicely into the company's other hidden-treasure-related news for today: AOL and Mark Burnett Productions have secured deals with five brands to sponsor their online treasure hunt "Gold Rush." Because of its highly interactive format, the reality show is being held out as the solution to consumers' TiVo-assisted ad-dodging, and their indifference to brand messages in general.
AOL and Mark Burnett are sending consumers out to find gold, with help from Best Buy, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile and Washington Mutual.
AOL and Mark Burnett are sending consumers out to find gold, with help from Best Buy, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile and Washington Mutual.

Online and offline components
Best Buy, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola Zero, T-Mobile USA and Washington Mutual have all signed on for the show, which follows contestants as they cross the country in search of booty. The show's producers are working with all five to mix their brands into online game play and offline gold "discoveries."

"We are excited to work with these companies and to integrate their brands and messaging into 'Gold Rush' while enhancing and fulfilling their marketing needs," said Mark Burnett.

And those needs now consist of more than merely getting ads in front viewers' eyeballs. "We've created a persuasive connection between Coca-Cola Zero and the 'Gold Rush' experience by developing exclusive advertising with embedded clues that gives viewers a fun, compelling reason to interact with our brand," said Katie Bayne, senior VP, Coca-Cola Brands, Coca-Cola North America.

In May, CBS, looking for a fresh method to promote its fall lineup, signed on with AOL and Mr. Burnett as the show's exclusive broadcast partner.

Clues hidden in programming
In pursuit of $2 million in solid gold, average viewers will be encouraged to find clues hidden within CBS's shows and commercials this fall, as well as on AOL.com and other media properties.

AOL and CBS are considering creating original content that would extend CBS's fall series onto AOL.com.

No word on whether the spammer's backyard is being considered as a location.
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