After Pepsi's Season-Long Deal, Fox Seeks Short-Term Partners for 'X Factor'

Soft Drink Nabs Only Full-Season Sponsorship, but There Are 'Arcs' Left to Sell; a Change From 'Idol' Ad Sales Model

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NEW YORK ( -- Now that Fox has secured Pepsi as a season-long sponsor for "X Factor" next fall, the network is planning to beat the streets for marketers that are interested in shorter integrations.

"I'm calling them 'arcs' of integration," said Jean Rossi, president of News Corp.'s Fox One cross-media sales unit and exec VP for sales at Fox Broadcasting. Marketers will get to align with the program in ways that go beyond traditional TV commercials, she said, but will still do it "in ways that are organic to the show."

Why not stick with the successful formula of long-term sponsorship that has characterized Fox's "American Idol" over the past decade? In that program, AT&T, Ford and Coca-Cola have remained the show's paramount sponsors throughout multiple seasons. Their products have been persistently woven into the proceedings, from the red Coke cups on the judges' desk to the show's use of AT&T for call-in votes.

That plan was crafted without knowing what a hit "Idol" would be with viewers and advertisers, according to Ms. Rossi. Selling shorter sponsorship arcs gives the network more flexibility and lets it bring more advertisers in.

Pepsi will have the only season-long integration with "X Factor." Others will last a few weeks.

Fox's initial outreach for "X Factor" was made just to beverage marketers, said Ms. Rossi. The feeling among executives at the network was that soda fit the tenor of the new program but that other categories, such as technology or telecommunications, might change too quickly to determine far ahead of time whether a fit with "X Factor" would be appropriate.

Fox solicited a group of beverage marketers all at once, making the process something of a "jump ball," said Frank Cooper, chief consumer engagement officer at PepsiCo Americas Beverages. "I think it was critical that one partner really worked closely with the executive producer, with Fox, on creating brand experiences within the show that were meaningful to the viewer," Mr. Cooper said.

"X Factor" could lend Fox a boost in the fall, when, traditionally, the network's airing of post-season baseball crimps its ability to launch new programs. Fox is also set to debut "Terra Nova," a program with Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin involved that follows people who journey back in time to the prehistoric era, at the same time of year. Advertisers "were very interested in that project," said Ms. Rossi. "We're doing just fine."

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