|The Saab 9-7X SUV will be one of the stars of the Tony's red-carpet show.
The unusual aspect of this integrated deal -- in which the new Saab 9-7X SUV will have a starring role next to the red carpet and stars will pose for interviews on a platform adorned with Saab’s logo -- is that the sponsor brought the buy to the network.
Extend its exposure
Already a sponsor of the red carpet event, General Motors Corp.'s Saab was looking for ways to extend its exposure. General Motors Mediaworks, part of Interpublic Group of Cos., contacted TV Guide Channel about broadcasting ared carpet show and, although a pre-awards show wasn’t originally in the programming lineup, the idea fit the channel’s personality perfectly.
“In years past people would say, I want six spots in the Tonys,” said Richy Glassberg, senior vice president for ad sales at TV Guide Channel. “But that’s not enough today because the brand has to break through the clutter. Now Saab will be in every print picture of the red carpet and they’ll be on TV Guide the whole time we’re broadcasting. This is Saab surrounding themselves with their target audience -- great marketing in a fragmented world.”
There is an advertising and product placement component to the deal, akin to what a buy on The Apprentice might look like. Additionally, the deal had to be cleared with CBS, which is broadcasting the actual Tony Awards ceremony but had decided not to offer pre-show coverage. Ultimately, it’s a boon for the broadcaster, which will get a full hour of promotion from the coverage on TV Guide.
'Too small for CBS'
“Let’s face it, [the coverage] is right for us, but it’s too small for CBS,” Mr. Glassberg said.
GM also sponsored TV Guide Channel’s red carpet broadcast from the Academy Awards, part of its Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers red carpet series. Joan & Melissa Live at the Academy Awards drew a record 1 million viewers to the channel, which is in 77 million homes.
“[General Motors] was very pleased with our Academy Awards show,” Mr. Glassberg said. “They were very appreciative of how we integrated them. And we over-delivered.”
In January 2004 TV Guide Channel launched original long-form programming, anchored by red carpet "tent pole" events. It hired Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers away from E! Networks and contracted them to host five events a year -- the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Grammys, Emmys and fifth to-be-determined show. It also calls upon its own personalities, such as Madison Michele and Chris Booker, who will handle Tony Awards duties. The network broadcast a red-carpet show May 25 from the American Idol finale with second-season Idol contestant Kimberly Caldwell hosting. The programming philosophy has helped them establish a presence in an ever-crowded cable world.
Year and a half later
“If you look at what we were a year-and-a-half ago, we were 10 minutes of barker that repeated 8 million times a day,” Mr. Glassberg said. “A year-and-a-half later we have original prime-time programming at 8 p.m. and our ratings are up in households 18-49s and women 18-49,” he added, referring to an adult demographic age group.