Lunden heads for markets with in-store TV network

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Former "Good Morning America" host Joan Lunden plans to turn the grocery store into a TV advertising venue as president of the newly formed Women's Supermarket Network.

The in-store network starts at 160 Shop-Rite Supermarkets stores in March, with the aim of adding 200 new screens a month during the next year at other East Coast supermarket chains. Ms. Lunden will anchor 6-minute health and food information segments for the network, aired on 42-inch screens placed at supermarket departments where there is often a wait, such as the deli and pharmacy.

"This is a new form of advertising and a new form of dissemination of health-related information," Ms. Lunden said.

"Our whole concept is building a network at the point of sale," said Bob Jacobs, creator of the network and chairman of its parent company, New York-based On Site Network.

BIG BRANDS SIGN ON

The Women's Supermarket Network has already signed a number of package-goods companies, including Coca-Cola Co., General Mills, American Home Products Corp. and Procter & Gamble Co. Those advertisers participated in a pilot project at Key Food Stores Cooperative markets in the New York area last April.

Ms. Lunden said the benefit of her network is immediacy. "When consumers read an ad at home in a magazine or paper or see it on TV, that manufacturer has to hope that you're going to remember the ad when you get to the store," she said. "For the manufacturer I don't think it gets any better than this."

CONSUMERS' LONE DESIRE

But David Diamond, chief vision officer at Catalina Marketing, said similar in-store TV programs have never been successful in the past.

"None have ever gotten out of the testing mode and the reason is fundamental and simple," said Mr. Diamond, who several years ago helped develop a similar program. "Consumers in supermarkets have only one desire and that is to be out of the supermarket."

Ms. Lunden, who oversees production of the spots, agrees you can't waste shoppers' time.

"When women are in the grocery store, they are juggling a lot," she said. "If this isn't information that they really need, it's an annoyance. [From the beginning] I said we either have to save these women time, money or calories."

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