Brands Like What Cooking Reality Shows Are Serving Up

'Top Chef' and 'Next Food Network Star' Bring More Marketers on Board

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NEW YORK -- It's a lucrative time to be a food marketer -- two cable series are entering their new seasons with more brands than ever.

'Top Chef' returns to Bravo for its third season with new brands integrated into the cooking competition's episodes.

A move to Miami isn't the only thing new for Bravo's "Top Chef," which kicks off its third season June 13. A host of new marketers are on board for the cooking-competition series, which has already partnered with NBC sibling Telemundo for a multiplatform partnership involving in-show integrations, webisodes and bilingual blogs.

Newcomers to 'Top Chef'
For "Top Chef 3 Miami," Bravo's VP-ad sales, Susan Malfa, welcomes Bertolli, Bombay Sapphire, Breville, Cold Stone Creamery, Evian, Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals and Red Robin to the fold, and Glad Products steps in for previous big-ticket sponsor Sears. Glad and returning sponsor Toyota Motors will co-sponsor a "Top Chef" Foodie Flyaway sweepstakes, with Toyota providing four RAV 4s to transport contestants in between food face-offs.

Ms. Malfa said the sheer number of brands involved this season can be attributed to the "value advertisers are learning when they partner with 'Top Chef,' and, moreover, Bravo."

"Top Chef" also bears the distinction of being the highest-rated food series on cable, as 2.8 million adults age 18-49 tuned in for the finale of season two. "It's become a destination for anyone looking to reach fans of that programming," Ms. Malfa said.

Food Network's movie tie-in
Food Network, for its part, just launched a third season of its "Next Food Network Star" June 3, with Ford, Hilton Hotels, the NBA, Bon Appetit and Star magazine among its integrated sponsors. The show also hits the big screen June 29 with the animated Disney/Pixar movie "Ratatouille." In the film, the main character competes on the show.

"Food Network Star" garnered an average 1.3 household rating in its second season, a 69% increase from its first. The network's VP-marketing, Susie Fogelson, said, "We are targeting the reality realm to bring in the light or occasional Food Network viewers. 'The Next Food Network Star' is different than other cooking-competition programs because finalists have the chance to win their own show and become part of the network. In both the show and the marketing it's all about Food Network creating its next star."
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