Instead placing ads within the June 12 premiere episode, Dodge and Quiznos will gain exposure for their brands through TNT's marketing efforts surrounding the uninterrupted premiere.
Two ad-free premieres
"Saved," which stars Tom Everett Scott ("That Thing You Do"), will follow "The Closer" on Monday nights. Linda Yaccarino, exec VP, Turner Entertainment ad sales and marketing, said the character-driven drama is a “perfect companion piece to 'The Closer.'" The crime procedural starring Kyra Sedgwick was last season's most watched cable series. The second-season premiere of "The Closer" will also run without commercials, thanks to Audi.
Ms. Yaccarino expects that two hours of uninterrupted drama will attract many viewers to the series' premieres. "[Commercial-free] is a format that we are utilizing to offer the viewers a unique viewing experience. In today's fragmented marketplace, where viewers have so much choice, it has been very, very successful for us," she said. "Offering a program without commercials absolutely attracts more viewers."
Before the start of 'Saved,' there will be an announcement made that the show is being aired ad free thanks to the two sponsors. Mark Spencer, senior manager of Dodge, said the commercial-free episode creates a good environment in which to reach viewers. "It's a situation that allows us to keep people from tuning us out or turning us off," he said.
"'Saved' is a gritty, urban drama," Mr. Spencer said. "It has some action, a lot of emotion. This all works well for Dodge. We like being paired up with this particular drama because of those elements."
Tune-in plugs, print effort
Dodge and Quiznos also will be mentioned in tune-in plugs touting the premieres that will also run in other dayparts. The marketers are part of a national print campaign supporting the series and appear on a "Saved" micro site on TNT's Web site.
Dodge and AOL, a corporate sibling of TNT under Time Warner, have arranged for their products to be written into the show's storyline throughout the season. A black Dodge Caliber will be integrated into the plot, though the scripts and context have not been finalized. "There are natural ways in our program that you can give our clients a high-profile presence that is uniquely written into the script, that is going to resonate with the viewer and not seem out of place or illogical," Ms. Yaccarino said.
"We have history with TNT. They're very collaborative with us on doing integrated programs," Mr. Spencer said. "Knowing TNT, they usually underpromise and overdeliver so we're confident they will come up with a quality integration."
TNT has a different relationship with an advertiser that is associated with "Saved" for the whole season than with an one only buying a 30-second spot as part of a scatter deal, Ms. Yaccarino said. A season-long partnership lets the network and brand custom design a communication plan that enhances the association.
"[Our ongoing relationship] gives the advertiser continuity in a very high-profile lineup," said Ms. Yaccarino. In return, the network looks for marketing partners that can co-promote the show. Sponsorship is about more than a media investment, she said, "it's about communication planning and shared assets."