'Wheel' Deal: People Partners With Game Show

In First for Publishers, Magazine Places Brands From Kraft, Sony, P&G

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NEW YORK -- Buy a page in Time Inc.'s People magazine, and your product could end up as a "double wedge" on the Wheel of Fortune.
Vanna, meet Maxwell: Coffee sponsors 'double wedge' on wheel and provides prizes.
Vanna, meet Maxwell: Coffee sponsors 'double wedge' on wheel and provides prizes.

People has struck a multiplatform ad deal with the game show "Wheel of Fortune" that encompasses print ads, online advertising and exposure within the show itself over a six-week period and celebrates "Wheel's" 25th anniversary. The advertisers involved include Kraft Foods' Maxwell House, Sony Corp.'s Sony Card, and Procter & Gamble's Febreze and Dawn. Each marketer will serve as a provider of prizes on the show and sponsor a "double wedge," or a sign that takes up two slots on the wheel.

New brokers
It's not the first time there's been product placement on "Wheel of Fortune," but it is the first time placement on the game show has been largely coordinated by a magazine publisher (Publicis Groupe's MediaVest was also involved). As such, it's just the latest example of magazines having to devise ad packages that involve things other than print pages -- and the dynamic turns them into brokers of a sort for new kinds of placement on TV and elsewhere.

"This is the first time we have worked directly with a major publication," said Harry Friedman, executive producer of "Wheel." "People magazine brought in their advertisers as partners."

The trend is gaining steam as advertisers realize that marketing in a single medium is "never enough," said Paul Caine, group publisher of People. Indeed, one media buyer said marketers are seeking print outlets that can spotlight "assets and capabilities beyond placing advertisers in a magazine."

With pressure mounting for broader programs from print outlets, a number of interesting deals have surfaced in recent years. In 2004, for example, TV Guide helped coordinate an appearance by Pepperidge Farm's Milano cookies, part of Campbell Soup Co., in the finale of "Frasier" -- the result of Pepperidge Farm agreeing to purchase a package of 12 full-page four-color ad pages over three issues in TV Guide.

Broad swath
Some of these deals require magazines to gather together a diffuse range of ad opportunities. In 2005, Golf magazine purchased two hours of airtime on CBS. Golf used the time to broadcast two one-hour episodes of a golf competition and sold packages that included TV ads, product placement, print ads and appearances on a website related to the program.
Paul Caine, group publisher of People
Paul Caine, group publisher of People

Such deals can require lots of work; others can take place through happenstance. People's "Wheel of Fortune" effort came together when Bob Oswaks, exec VP-marketing for Sony Pictures Television, ran into Nancy Valentino, VP, Time Inc. Entertainment Communic-ations Group. The two decided to come up with ways the magazine and the game show could work together. People's Mr. Caine said the ideas were formed after about "45 minutes" of discussion between the two sides. Pages featuring "Wheel" and each advertiser will run between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23.

For Maxwell House, the project allows it not only to communicate with consumers through multiple venues but also to have a reason or event about which to speak. "I just think we're going to see more and more of this in the industry," said John Leboutillier, Kraft's senior VP-general manager of coffee. "We are going to reach a much broader audience than if we did any of [these media platforms] individually."
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