Low Thanksgiving Night Viewership Blamed

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The deal: Coty Beauty teams with Donald Trump’s "The Apprentice" to sponsor a task around Shania Twain’s new fragrance.

The result: Because the episode aired on Thanksgiving, fewer viewers tuned in than Coty had hoped for, resulting in disappointing results.

Coty Beauty's recent foray on Donald Trump's edition of "The Apprentice" received a lot of public relations attention for its new Shania by Stetson fragrance but less-than-expected direct response from viewers.
Shania Twain's appearance to promote her Coty perfume on Donald Trump's 'Apprentice' didn't go as well as hoped.

The Thanksgiving episode of "The Apprentice," dubbed "Shaniagans," featured the five final contestants of the NBC show battling to develop the winning marketing program that would drive consumers to call an 800-number to get a free sample of country singer Shania Twain’s new fragrance. While the winning team was able to rack up 2,000 calls to its 800-number, the number of additional calls to that number -- posted on the screen during the program -- “didn't meet the expectations of the team," said Coty spokeswoman Maria Lagamba.

Thanksgiving timing blamed

Although Coty declined to give specific information about the direct-response results, the reasoning for the disappointment is clear. Though Mark Burnett Productions spokesman Jim Dowd said there was a lot of buzz around the airing of the Shania episode because she is such a "huge star," he said "it's unfortunate it aired on Thanksgiving night when, as it is traditionally the case, viewership was much lower than usual."

Because of football on CBS and a general lack of TV viewership at all on Thanksgiving night, the show was the lowest-rated of the season for "The Apprentice," drawing roughly 9 million viewers vs. its average of 11 million.

Prior to the show, Coty certainly attempted to drive the buzz with a ubiquitous media tour for the fragrance leading up to Ms. Twain's appearance on "The Apprentice," including stints on daytime talker "Martha" and ABC's "Good Morning America," and a 30-second radio spot touting the new fragrance that also prompted listeners to tune in to "The Apprentice."

Those efforts garnered a slew of media hits and attention for the singer/songwriter, who hasn't had a new album in three years.

Web site plug

During the episode, Coty ran a 15-second spot sending viewers to a Web site for the new fragrance (shaniabystetson.com) to request a free sample, and placed the winning 800-number on the screen for consumers to call to hear a recorded message from Ms. Twain and become eligible to win Shania by Stetson merchandise as well as get the free sample.

Despite fewer viewers than expected calling in during the show, Coty is still committed to its strategy of what Coty CEO Bernd Beetz calls "living media," tie-ins, promotions and experiences that allow consumers to connect emotionally with its brands, especially its growing raft of celebrity fragrances that are beholden to the connections consumers have with the stars.

For example, for its Celine fragrance last year, Coty followed up on a successful 2003 online promotion with another one that elicited essays from mothers on the inspiration provided by their own mothers or by being a mother themselves and rewarded winners with a trip to Celine Dion's Las Vegas show. Coty sponsored a program on Lifetime and tied in with People magazine's Live Tour to Wal-Mart parking lots to tout the effort.

"Living media is all about nontraditional marketing efforts and product placements with a twist that are great, integrated ways to create awareness of our brands," Ms. Lagamba said.

By Oct. 30, a little more than a month after its launch, sales of Shania by Stetson in food, drug and mass outlets excluding Wal-Mart, totaled just more than $1 million, according to Information Resources Inc.
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