The stars of "Live With Regis and Kelly" always dress up for its annual big Halloween show, but this year, the Oct. 31 episode will be broadcast in 3-D.
Viewers will be able to enjoy the special effect if they pick up the required 3-D glasses at the photo department of a local Walgreens store as part of an advertising and promotional deal.
The stunt was announced on today's episode of "Live." Executive Producer Michael Gellman said the idea of doing a 3-D show had been kicking around for a few years. But the episode needed a sponsor to defray the cost of creating and distributing the 3-D glasses.
During this year's upfront, the sales team at Disney-ABC Domestic Television started pitching the sponsorship to agencies. Starcom heard the pitch and took it to client Walgreens. "Walgreens was first up, and they seemed immediately the best fit," said Sandra Szahun, VP-national promotions at Disney-ABC Domestic Television.
Halloween is a big holiday for Walgreens, which stocks aisles of candy, costumes and decorations, said Christine Kubisztal, manager of media services and strategy for Walgreens. Halloween also is one of the biggest picture-sharing days for Walgreens' photo department, as people exchange pictures of themselves and their kids in costume.
"It was kind of like lightening in a bottle," Ms. Kubisztal said. "As a brand, we're looking to do more of these things going forward.
"We're not known really for being very fun and innovative. We're a drug store," she said. "But photo is one of the few businesses that we have that is fun and is about innovation."
Walgreens is creating about 5 million pairs of 3-D glasses with red and blue lenses that will be distributed through its 6,000 stores. The glasses can be found at Walgreens' photo departments in boxes bearing pictures of Mr. Philbin and Ms. Ripa that will remind viewers to tune in to the 3-D Halloween special.
"It was great because we got to blend elements of the show plus elements of our Halloween thematic, which is called 'The More the Scarier,'" Ms. Kubisztal said.
Walgreens, already an advertiser on "Live," has two commercials ready, one to support its Halloween products and another for its photo department.
The show helps Walgreens reach women of different ages.
Last year's Halloween "Live" drew the show's second-highest rating of the year among women 18 to 49. Its 2.7 rating was up 42 percent from the show's season average in that demographic.
"You're talking about older moms who might be in caregiver situations who shop our pharmacy, but then you're talking about the younger moms, too, who come in and are buying the candy and the costumes and the decorations for their homes," said Ms. Kubisztal.
The tune-in message also will be playing through Walgreens' in-store radio system.
"I was impressed by how quickly they were able to execute," Ms. Szahun said. While some retailers are decentralized and unable to move fast, "in this case they pulled this together and created those glasses and got them in their stores within six weeks. It was a very efficient process."
"Live" will begin urging its viewers to go to a Walgreens store starting today. "Live" will launch a sweepstakes and is creating a Web site on which viewers can share their Halloween pictures.
Both "Live" and Walgreens will be sending out e-mail blasts about the promotion to their consumer lists.
"One of the great things for Walgreens is that we'll be driving people directly to Walgreens and their photo counter," Mr. Gellman said. "And for us, we're going to have the signage in the store, so the synergy is terrific."
"Live" is looking to top its past Halloween efforts with its 3-D show.
"We've definitely become the show for Halloween," Mr. Gellman said. Mr. Philbin and Ms. Ripa change costumes during the show, wearing outfits based on events going on in the news. The show also puts on a costume contest for which hundreds show up at the studio.
"Halloween has become such a big deal, and we're always trying to push the envelope to do it one step further. We came up with 3-D and got it all together and are making it happen," he said.
The live staff has been studying old movies made in 3-D to find visual gags that work well in the format, such as like spraying water or throwing knives and spears toward the camera.
The 3-D effect will be interspersed throughout the show, but Mr. Gellman declined to be specific about what stunts they'll pull.
"Halloween is a time when you want to thrill the audience, and I think we're planning on things that will be thrilling," Mr. Gellman said.
With markers looking to get more for their advertising dollars than just commercials when they buy TV, more sponsorships and product integrations are finding their way onto the air.
"There is a huge demand in the marketplace, but with a show that has ratings like 'Live,' they're not under the same pressure to do as many as some other shows, so they can choose the very best ones and also do ones that promote the show," Ms. Szahun said.
"We're here to entertain. We're here to have fun. We're not really here to be an infomercial," Mr. Gellman said. "Where they work, they're terrific and everyone's a winner. But we're not looking to become the Home Shopping Channel where we're selling something new every minute."
Jon Lafayette is a senior editor at TV Week.