Both companies sponsored the first two seasons of the show, a popular hit in China. The daily show attracted 73 million viewers on its opening night, Sept. 28, 2008, and ranked first in its time-slot with a 6.7 rating. The second season of Chou Nu Wu Di (Ugly Wudi), as the show is called in China, debuted on Jan. 12, 2009, and aired through March 12. Ratings for the second season are not available yet but it had an approximate 6.2% market share. Season three will launch in the fall.
Perfetti Van Melle Corp. has also signed up to sponsor the third season to promote its confectionery brand Mentos. The European company will use the program to showcase its new product design in China, a package-within-a-package concept intended to keep Mentos products from damage during distribution.
"Ugly Betty will have some very interesting scripted story lines about some of the cast getting involved in the design as well," said Mateo Eaton, partner-invention for North Asia at Mindshare, based in Hong Kong. (View an interview with Mateo Eaton on AdAge.com)
The WPP media agency collaborated on the Chinese version of Ugly Betty with the Chinese provincial broadcaster Hunan Satellite TV and the producers of the localized version of the comedy-drama program. With oversight by Mindshare, the sponsors' brands are incorporated into the programming. Unilever has used the show to promote three brands: Dove shower cream, Clear anti-dandruff shampoo and Lipton milk tea.
Bausch & Lomb, meanwhile, places "a lot of effort in educating consumers. However, we found that the use of traditional media are often restricted by time and scope, it makes it difficult to communicate the product messages comprehensively," said Winifred Chan, the company's marketing director for China in Shanghai.
"The aim for us is to find a new media platform that allows us to communicate the product attributes effectively, in a relatively informal and influential manner," Ms. Chan said. "In conjunction with the branded content initiative, below-the-line promotions will be in place to encourage trails."
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