Diageo Backs VH1 Show

JWT's Icon does deal for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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%%STORYIMAGE_LEFT%% [email protected] JWT, the branded entertainment unit of WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, New York, is close to finalizing a programming-and-marketing package that will result in a sponsor-supported television series set to air on VH1 in the second quarter of this year, according to knowledgeable industry insiders.

Bailey's, the Diageo-owned Irish whiskey, a former client of IconEntertainment parent JWT, New York, has signed on as the show's single sponsor, according to knowledgeable executives. The size of Bailey's financial commitment is unknown, but sponsorships of 60-minute shows generally range from $200,000 to $700,000 per show, said an industry source. VH1 broadcasts the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees show each year. A VH1 spokeswoman said she was not aware of such a project. A JWT spokeswoman said, "JWT has dozens of projects in development for numerous clients at any given time." Execs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Diageo could not be reached.

Though the show is as yet unnamed, its concept is firm. Each episode features two musicians who admire and have influenced each other. The program, appropriately set at IconEntertainment client the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, includes performance footage, biographical details and explanations of the ways in which the artists interact with and influence each other. R&B divas Alicia Keys and Patti LaBelle, say industry insiders, have each been approached by Icon about appearing on the inaugural show. Show name titles under consideration are Artist & Icons and Idols & Icons.

%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% As the show's executive producer, Icon Entertainment, run by president Steve Flanders, is making good on a mission set forth in recent months (Madison + Vine, Jan. 14, 2004) to offer clients co-marketing and equity opportunities in entertainment assets. The deal's completion would also mark a return for Icon parent JWT to an earlier era of television programming in the 1940s, when the agency produced and directed a one-hour live drama series, the Kraft Television Theatre. Icon's contemporary effort, developed on behalf of and owned by The Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame, is a way for both the Hall of Fame and the show's sponsor, Diageo's Bailey's Irish Whiskey, to reach a more contemporary audience.

Unlike the past, this show will be surrounded by an integrated marketing effort allowing the musicians and the brands to leverage an array of initiatives including public relations, promotions, potential tour sponsorships, in-bar programs, and online.

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