Welch's grape juice squeezes into plot line of Pax TV show

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As part of an extensive -- and unusual -- product placement deal, some of the child characters on Pax TV's "Little Men" will take jobs in a Welch's grape juice factory in an upcoming episode.

It is rare for a sponsor to be written into the content of a TV program, but this pairing is even more offbeat in that "Little Men" is set during the 1880s.

Colleen Heydon, Pax TV's VP-marketing and sales promotion, said Welch Foods, now owned by the National Grape Cooperative Association, was founded during that period and is headquartered in Concord, Mass. Louisa May Alcott, author of the series of novels in which "Little Men" appears, wrote and set the books in Concord and the surrounding environs.


Pax cut the deal directly with Welch. And while it's unusual, industry observers said it isn't likely to cause controversy.

"I don't see anything wrong with it," said Rich Hamilton, CEO of Zenith Media Services, New York. "When the label is entertainment, as it clearly is in `Little Men,' if Pax can feature the sponsor in this special way, that's fine. If the label of the show was news, it would not be fine."

The episode will air Dec. 3. Welch also will run an in-store promotion between Dec. 15 and Feb. 15 in Jewel-Osco, Publix Supermarkets, Safeway and Stop & Shop Cos. grocery chains in 12 cities. Prizes include a walk-on role in the Pax TV series.

Welch has also bought time on "Little Men."

In a similar deal a few years ago, AT&T Corp. ran an extensive promotion with the Fox show "New York Undercover," including having a character in the show refer to 1-800-CALL-ATT.


The Welch deal is one of two new sponsorship pacts for Pax. A second adds a brand name to "Chicken Soup for the Soul": Campbell's Select.

Campbell Soup Co. has signed a promotional pact with Pax -- which airs a series entitled "Chicken Soup for the Soul" -- and with the editors of the popular "Chicken Soup" books, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. Donna Leonard, Pax VP-national promotion, said she worked directly with Campbell to cut the deal.


Campbell is included in the opening credits as the show's presenting sponsor. Starting this week, Pax will air 335 vignettes per week on its network in which a Campbell's Select soup can moves from side to side to reveal a quote from a "Chicken Soup" book. Campbell also gets tagged on radio, print and Pax's on-air promos for the TV show.

On Dec. 12, 58 million free- standing inserts in Sunday newspapers will promote Campbell's Select soups, Pax's TV show and a free, special edition "Chicken Soup" book.

Finally, starting in January, 965 Waldenbooks stores nationwide will set up "Chicken Soup" boutiques. With the purchase of any book from the series, customers will get a special bookmark that includes a coupon for Campbell's Select soup.

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