Diageo to Open 'Happy Hour' on ESPN in Two Languages

Liquor Marketer to Sponsor 'Around the Horn,' 'Pardon the Interruption'

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ESPN intends to turn its late-afternoon lineup into a good time at the tavern.

The Walt Disney-owned sports cable outlet has struck a deal to make liquor-marketer Diageo "presenting sponsor" of both "Around the Horn" and "Pardon the Interruption" as they air on both ESPN and in counterpart fashion ("Juego Cruzado" and "Cronometro") on Spanish-language ESPN Deportes. Diageo's sponsorship will be highlighted as a "Happy Hour," and will be identified as such throughout the course of the deal, which lasts from this month through next September.

The pact spotlights the new interest advertisers have in reaching different types of consumers with a consistent message. While the continuing fragmentation of media suggests advertisers should tailor their promotional entreaties to the different niches on individual cable networks, shows or even video clips on the web, the fact of the matter is that doing so isn't particularly cost-effective.

To keep costs down and yet try to reach a broader array of potential customers, some advertisers are testing cross-platform efforts with media companies that have a broader array of properties. "This is part of an ongoing trend," said Ed Erhardt, ESPN's president-customer marketing and sales. "Why not program with an English-language audience in mind that has a pretty strong Hispanic audience, and also add additional value with Spanish-language programming around the same shows? It isn't either-or any more."

State Farm Insurance recently tried its hand at a similar effort, enlisting NBC Universal to reach Spanish-speaking consumers across several pieces of its portfolio. Rather than limiting the campaign housed solely at NBCU's Telemundo and Mun2 networks, however, the insurance company also is seeking Hispanics on Style, NBC and E!

Diageo will promote a number of different products throughout the course of its year-long sponsorship. At first, the company will highlight Guinness Black Lager on ESPN and Captain Morgan Rum on Deportes.

The web will also play a role. ESPN will set up a "video hub" featuring clips from both "debate" programs on its site, also to be sponsored by Diageo.

Diageo has been a long-time sponsor of "Pardon the Interruption," said Mr. Erhardt, and its media agency, Carat, thought taking a more noticeable stand in the programs' time slot would help get a message out to "young men of a drinking age, 21-plus , before they were going to go out and do what they were going to do." Diageo spent around $21.7 million across ESPN's properties in 2010, according to Kantar Media.

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