CBS, Pepsi Create Video Ad to Run in Print

Entertainment Weekly Ad Uses 'Big Bang Theory' Stars to Promote Fall Season

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- To hawk its fall season, CBS has teamed with PepsiCo and Entertainment Weekly to create a video ad that will run in the magazine.

CBS will insert a paper-thin interactive video player into copies of the Sept. 18 issue of Time Inc.'s Entertainment Weekly sent to Los Angeles- and New York-area subscribers. The issue previews the 2009-2010 TV season. As part of a unique marketing partnership, PepsiCo will join with CBS to promote its Pepsi Max diet cola for men in the print ads and sponsor the fall debut of CBS's Monday-night comedies on Sept. 21.

CBS Mondays brochure
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CBS and Pepsi will tout 'Monday to the Max' in a video ad set to run in some copies of Entertainment Weekly.
Omnicom Group's OMD, which works for both PepsiCo and CBS, helped arrange the deal.

The intriguing promotion serves to illustrate how TV networks and advertisers are experimenting with new technologies to get their messages out to consumers. While TV networks continue to use on-air promos and video trailers, finding other methods of reaching viewers has become more important, said George Schweitzer, president of CBS Marketing Group.

"It was axiomatic: If you ran an ad in TV Guide, people would watch your program. Not anymore," he said. These days, entertainment marketers have to "jump off the traditional TV, radio and print" and find ways to "get our samples into the hands of more entertainment enthusiasts."

CBS and Pepsi will tout "Monday to the Max," which will feature the season debuts of "How I Met Your Mother," "Two and a Half Men," "The Big Bang Theory" and the new series "Accidentally on Purpose." Along with the ad in Entertainment Weekly, CBS will screen the pilot of "Accidentally" at college campuses and launch an online microsite featuring interviews and red-carpet interviews from a Los Angeles premiere party.

How it works
When Entertainment Weekly readers open the magazine to the ad pages, they will see a small screen flicker on and start to load a video. A brief segment featuring actors from "The Big Bang Theory" will explain how to use the player, while talking about features from Entertainment Weekly and the different video selections a reader can choose. By pressing one of five different buttons, readers can watch a video montage from "How I Met Your Mother," a montage from "Two and a Half Men," a humorous ad for Pepsi Max, a sneak preview of "Accidentally on Purpose" or a preview of new CBS dramas "NCIS: Los Angeles," "The Good Wife" and "Three Rivers."

Pepsi agreed to the pact as part of a "one-off deal" with CBS, said Frank Cooper, chief marketing officer-portfolio brands at Pepsi-Cola North America Beverages, and not as part of its recent upfront negotiations with the network. However, Mr. Cooper said Pepsi has made an "incremental" move into buying prime-time ad inventory at CBS.

Pepsi, which typically advertises in CBS sports programs, has not advertised in CBS prime-time programming in several years, according to a person familiar with the situation. Mr. Cooper also confirmed that Pepsi would be an advertiser in next year's Super Bowl broadcast, which CBS will televise.

Driving Pepsi's decision, Mr. Cooper said, was the fact that CBS comedies reach consumers between the ages of 25 and 39. The tone the beverage company uses in its Pepsi Max ads also "plays well," he said, with the male-oriented, irreverent humor that is so much a part of CBS's Monday comedies. Pepsi intends to measure the success of the venture by examining "buzz" among consumers, Mr. Cooper said. Rather than looking at sales of soda, he said, the company will look for "cultural feedback that comes from the kind of connection" an eyebrow-raising promotion creates.

Getting creative
Like other networks, CBS has grown more creative in recent years in its efforts to drum up attention for its new shows. Once content to run print ads calling attention to launch dates, networks have gradually moved to showier stuff.

In 2006, for example, CBS had various promotional messages for its shows printed on the shells of eggs for sale in supermarkets. One year later, CBS placed ads on meat wrappers at supermarket deli counters and arranged for freezer doors in grocery aisles to reveal ads for the now-canceled vampire drama "Moonlight" when they fogged up. The idea is to catch potential viewers as they are going about the routine of their daily lives -- and then shake up that routine.

Convincing viewers to tune in to new shows is crucial for all TV networks but particularly so for CBS. Broadcast TV has seen gradual ratings erosion thanks to a wider array of digital media choices as well as increased penetration of DVRs and video-on-demand technology. CBS managed to increase its ratings in select categories last season and will need to keep growing its audience in order to impress ad buyers.

This latest print ad is not likely to come cheap. To keep ad money flowing, many magazines have increased their use of gimmicky inserts that feature flashing lights, DVDs and CDs, and voice chips. But the eye-catching gewgaws often require marketers to pay for extra production costs. The most elaborate can command several million dollars. CBS and Pepsi declined to comment on the cost of the ad campaign or on how much Pepsi would pay CBS as part of the deal. Limiting distribution to Los Angeles- and New York-area subscribers will help keep costs in line.

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