The Buzz

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Is it possible for a marketer to be front and center in a reality show, and yet not be too in your face? Brian Woods, CEO of United Online's NetZero Highspeed, thinks the relationship between his brand and NBC's upcoming "Next Action Star," walks that fine line, even though NetZero is woven into the content of every show and its "Die Hard"-esque promotional campaign.

"It's such a soft sell," Woods says.

No stranger to product integration, NetZero stars in every episode of NBC's "Fear Factor," and appeared in the now defunct "Dog Eat Dog." The marketer helped foot the bill for "Next Action Star," making its debuts this week, with Joel Silver's Silver Pictures Television, GRB Entertainment and NBC Productions.

The 14 wanna-be action heroes, who compete for a movie role, will drive the NetZero Nascar and compete in "NetZero Highspeed Challenges," a reflection of the brand's ad tagline. For the promo spot, airing on NBC, ESPN, TNT, USA and other nets, a Bruce Willis-like character crashes through a window to save a hostage. Because he can't get details via a computer on how to diffuse a ticking bomb in the room-obviously he doesn't have NetZero-the bomb explodes. Next Action Star!

The promotion is part of "the A-to-Z integration," that NBC is striving for, said Barbara Blangiardi, VP-marketing at The NBC Agency, its in-house marketing unit. "We want to take co-branding from the show to the marketing."

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