The CW hopes a promotional boost from Microsoft's
Bing search engine will help drive results for the launch of its
coterie of new and returning series.
In a move that cedes some valuable on-air real estate to a
marketer, the CW will let Bing run promotional messages in
specially created commercials featuring cast and crew members from
CW programs; in promos that run in the "lower third" of the TV
screen at certain times during each evening; and in the words that
appear in the CW "bug" usually affixed to a bottom corner of the TV
screen, along with the network's slogan, "TV to Talk About"
(viewers will see that CW also offers "TV to Bing About").
The CW will let Bing run promos that run in the 'lower third' of the TV screen.
The promotional efforts come as TV networks find they have to
work harder to get the word out about their new and returning
programs in the midst of a crowded field of launches in autumn, but
also as some TV ad-sales executives believe marketers are pressing
more forcefully for special on-screen promotional pieces and less
so for weaving products into programs.
Over the course of the past year, said Alison Tarrant, exec
VP-integrated sales and marketing at the CW, the network has heard
from marketers that are "more interested in creating custom
content." While product placement is still desirable, she added,
"there is a lot of momentum in developing opportunities that run
outside of the show," including commercials tailored to the program
in which they appear, as well as other on-screen entreaties. These
individually crafted videos don't "just run one time in the body of
the show," she said, but can live on in digital venues and tend to
have a longer shelf life than a sneaker or phone that shows up in a
character's hands for a few seconds.
The sentiment has been echoed by other TV executives. Speaking
at a conference organized by the Association of National
Advertisers earlier this year, Marianne Gambelli,
president-advertising sales at NBC Universal's NBC, suggested more
sponsors are asking for special content in ad breaks and toning
down demands to intrude in the scripts of dramas and comedies.
Microsoft's Bing has in the past few years tried to establish
itself as a heady competitor to search-engine giant Google. To do
so, it has paid to have characters in various TV programs make use
of its search capabilities, as it did in an episode last season on CBS'
Yet marketing executives behind the product are starting to see
value in other methods, said Sean Carver, a director of marketing
at Bing. "Integrations today have basically started to become like
commercials were five or 10 years ago," he said. "It is more
difficult to catch people's attention" using them.
Rather than paying to have actress Blake Lively's "Gossip Girl"
character Serena van der Woodsen search out a club by using Bing on
screen, the marketer and CW have instead created about 50 different
videos, said Ms. Tarrant, 10 of which will show up during the
premieres of various programs. In each video, a member of the cast
or crew of the show currently on air will offer some tidbits or
thoughts about events slated to take place during the season.
Kevin Williamson, the popular showrunner behind "Vampire
Diaries," will appear on behalf of that program, while Sarah
Michelle Gellar, the star of the new drama "Ringer," will make an
appearance for that series. For "90210," which is seeing some cast
changes as characters graduate to college, the casting director
will offer viewers some notes. Just as Bing is supposed to help web
surfers find information, the sponsored vignettes are meant to
"give the viewer a deeper, an insider perspective on what's going
to be happening this season from someone who is tied to the show,"
said Ms. Tarrant. Longer versions of the videos will subsequently
appear on Microsoft-owned sites online as well as CW's website.
The extra promotion is no doubt welcome at CW, owned jointly by
Time Warner and CBS Corp. The network is launching four new
programs -- "Ringer," "H8R," "Secret Circle" and "Hart of Dixie" --
and has moved some of its older programs, including "90210" and
"Nikita," to new days or times in order to accommodate. While the
network will give Bing a substantial presence on its air, it will
likely benefit from the marketers' ability to plug its programs
along with its own search capabilities.
Bing wanted to go after a younger audience that watched TV but
also was familiar with digital and social media, said Lisa Gurry, a
director-marketing at Bing. And while this group may view
traditional advertising skeptically, the marketer hopes it feels
rewarded when its "gets an opportunity to Bing in contextually
This marks Bing's second large integration since moving its U.S.
media business to Publicis Groupe 's Starcom MediaVest from
Interpublic Group's Universal McCann
earlier this year. Recently, the company worked with MTV and
its Video Music Awards.
Brian covers the big broadcast television networks and also looks at changes in the world of TV advertising. He particularly enjoys stories that have a pop-culture element to them, but that doesn't preclude him from being open to all topics. Use email or phone to contact.