Madison & Vine: P&G's Pringles inks deal as gaming show title sponsor

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Procter & Gamble Co. continues to integrate its products into entertainment content through a multimillion dollar deal to title a program with its Pringles brand on the new 24-hour video-game channel, G4.

"This relationship between Pringles and G4 is a great example of how strategic partnerships enable our brands to better connect with target consumers," said Jim Stengel, P&G's global marketing officer. "It's about being where the consumer wants to be."

The program, "Cheat! Pringles Gamers Guide," will launch later this month featuring the salted snack and its "Mr. P" spokescharacter within the half-hour show, during commercial breaks and as part of special interstitials including an online poll of favorite games or "cheat codes," the results of which will be shared during the show itself.

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Julie Eddleman, North American Pringles brand manager, said the company sees the partnership as "an opportunity to get in at the beginning of something that will hit our prime prospect in a unique way." She compared the launch of G4 with the MTV launch, and pointed to gaming as possibly "the last area of TV where there is growth and exposure."

According to Dale Hopkins, senior VP-distribution and sales at Comcast-owned G4, gaming was a roughly $10 billion business last year, making it the fastest-growing entertainment form even above movies. According to A.C. Nielsen EDI, U.S. box-office receipts last year were $8.13 billion.

The digital-tier network launched May 1 in 6 million homes, featuring programming highlighting the latest video-game news, tips and tricks and behind-the-scenes looks at celebrity gamers. Ms. Hopkins said the network hopes to reach 8 million homes by 2003 based on the strength of interest in the genre from roughly 145 million Americans ages 12 to 34. That growing interest is what sparked the tie with P&G as well as advertising from Microsoft and the U.S. Navy among others.

entertainment as asset

The deal was forged by Grey Global Group's Alliance, an entertainment development and strategic partnership firm and sibling to P&G roster shop Grey Worldwide. "For the demographic Pringles is trying to reach [13- to 24-year-olds], traditional advertising doesn't penetrate, or at least does only slightly compared to what it did 10 years ago," said Alliance CEO Jarrod Moses. "If [your marketing] is intrusive, you're going to lose them, so you have to provide entertainment that's an asset to their life," he said. Video gaming, according to Mr. Moses, has been underestimated, and is actually "the most utilized media vehicle in the world for this target."

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