One-Hour Product Placement Results in 200,000 New Sign Ups

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The deal: Daytime talk show Dr. Phil builds an episode around online dating service

The result: The hour-long appearance helps PerfectMatch sign up 200,000 new members

LOS ANGELES -- You could say made a love connection with Dr. Phil that most companies in the burgeoning branded entertainment field can only fantasize about.
Dr. Phil and PerfectMatch turned out to be just that.

Prior to Valentine's Day, the Dr. Phil show was seeking new relationship-themed content and the Web service was seeking in-entertainment exposure to give it a leg up in the highly competitive field of online matchmaking.

Entertainment Media Ventures

Entertainment Media Ventures, a Los Angeles consultancy founded by former studio executive and Creative Artists Agency agent Sandy Climan, bartered a deal that cost nothing, secured a one-hour product placement for on Dr. Phil and drove 200,000 viewers to sign up for the matchmaker's service within 24 hours of the show's airing.

It would normally take the service a month to add that many new members, said Duane Dahl, PerfectMatch's president-CEO.

PerfectMatch executives did not pay an integration fee to be embedded into the Paramount syndicated show, a spin-off of Oprah that is regularly one of the top-rated daytime talk shows.

Prior to the Feb. 11 show, the matchmaking service had some 1.5 million members, so the one-hour show exposure increased paying membership in a single day by 13%. charges its members about $50 a month.

Paramount TV executives declined to comment on the program or its results.

'Something that had never been done before'

“We wanted to do something that had never been done before,” said Mr. Dahl. “Creatively, we were drawn to the idea, but we didn’t have the expectation that we’d be featured for the full hour. We would’ve been excited to have 10 minutes on The Tony Danza Show.”

The appearance wasn't the first branded entertainment experience for the service that is owned by the Kirkland, Wash.-based MarketRange Inc. It had previously partnered with Lifetime TV, New Line Cinema’s The Notebook, Sony Pictures’ Hitch and others.

To find people for the Dr. Phil studio audience, executives put out a casting call in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas for PerfectMatch singles interested in going on Dr. Phil and meeting someone new. From that pool of candidates, they chose about 150 men and 150 women that they felt were compatible, according to the service’s matching criteria, developed by relationship expert and author Pepper Schwartz. No one was introduced before the show.

Hour-long episode

In the hour-long episode, host Phil McGraw chatted with Ms. Schwartz, who explained the site’s compatibility test, and sent potential couples on backstage dates.

In addition to touting PerfectMatch after each commercial break, the talk-show host also gave details of an ongoing PerfectMatch promotion that was giving away 1 million memberships.

The appearance on Dr. Phil may spawn a follow-up show in which Mr. McGraw chats with one or more of the couples who met there, Mr. Dahl said.
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