Tired of Product Placement? Wake Up and Smell the Oreos

TV Guide Scratch-and-Sniff Card Integrates Cookies Into NBC's 'Earl'

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NEW YORK -- TV Guide, NBC, 20th Century Fox Television and Oreo have teamed up to cross-promote each other, integrating the magazine and the iconic cookie into an episode of "My Name Is Earl."
In addition to the Oreo smell, the card will offer aromas including 'new-car smell' and 'obnoxious cologne.'
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Getting products, particularly consumer package goods, into TV and movies is so old at this point that people keep mistaking it for new again. But the involvement of TV Guide and an innovative scratch-and-sniff card are likely to make the May 3 "Earl," and Oreos, stand out more than usual.

Bound 'Laugh 'n Sniff' cards

Viewers who buy the April 30 issue of TV Guide, on newsstands April 26, will find a "Laugh 'n Sniff" card bound inside. The "Earl" episode will use on-air graphics to prompt viewers to rub one of six corresponding boxes on the card, releasing scents related to the show's action at the moment. In addition to the Oreo smell, the card will offer aromas including "new-car smell" and "obnoxious cologne."

TV Guide isn't the behemoth it once was, but it still posted an average paid circulation of 3.28 million in the second half of last year, according to its report with the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The magazine has struck marketing and integration deals with shows such as "Medium," for which it bound 3-D glasses into an issue, and "Frasier," for which the magazine helped get Milano cookies integrated into the series' final episode.

"For us as a magazine to keep coming forward with these innovative ideas is imperative going forward," said Pete Haeffner, publisher of TV Guide. "The next innovative thing will be down another road entirely."

Producer pitched editorial

The scratch-and-sniff collaboration originated with Greg Garcia, executive producer of "Earl." Mr. Garcia initially approached TV Guide's editorial side with the idea, but edit quickly passed the proposal along to marketing.

"When John Waters guest-starred on an episode of 'Earl' this year, I asked him if he'd be cool with me ripping off the Odorama card he did with his 1981 movie 'Polyester,' and he gave me the thumbs up," Mr. Garcia said. "I remember my parents coming home with the card and thinking it must have been really cool to actually smell the things you were watching."

The "Earl" episode will probably won't linger in the collective cultural consciousness for quite as long, but it's another step for magazines and marketers playing in the entertainment space.
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