Turner Strikes Broad Product Placement Agreement With Starcom

Pop Tarts, Burger King and Samsung May Make Cameos in TNT and TBS Shows

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Pop Tarts, Burger King and Samsung could start popping up more often in some of your favorite TNT and TBS shows soon.

'Major Crimes' on TNT
'Major Crimes' on TNT

That's because of a deal between Starcom and Turner Broadcasting, which was struck during TV's annual upfront negotiations and is taking effect now, that encourages the Turner networks to use Starcom clients in their original shows. It follows a similar, earlier product placement pact between Turner and MillerCoors.

Starcom's general deal doesn't preclude clients of other agencies from striking their own deals with TNT and TBS series where they don't conflict with other integrations that have been nailed down. But over the next year, Starcom's portfolio of brands will be considered and available to use while writers and producers are drafting storylines for TBS, TNT, Adult Swim and TruTV.

Starcom is currently in talks for 8 to 10 of its clients to be used in upcoming programming. Kellogg's Pop Tarts, for example, will appear in an episode of the new TBS comedy, "Ground Floor," which will air in January.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Traditionally, one-off product placement deals are negotiated closer to the air date, in the so called "scatter" market. Making a broader arrangement in the upfront -- when TV networks look to secure a bulk of advertising ahead of the fall season -- simplifies the process of getting individual brands into particular shows, according to Amanda Richman, president of investment and activation at Starcom.

Starcom has already briefed Turner on its clients and each of their goals and objectives in order to make the process more seamless, Ms. Richman said. The deal also presents an opportunity for brands that typically shy away from product placements because of resource demands and high cost, she said.

Product placement has become increasingly important to marketers looking for ways to reach consumers as ad-skipping technology proliferates. And while there's been a heavy focus on associating brands with so-called social TV chatter, Ms. Richman said content is what's driving those social conversations. "We want our brands to be associated with that content," she said.

The effort alleviates some of the time restraints and hurdles programmers run into in seeking approval for product placements, according to the companies. "Doing this deal in the upfronts gives us enough lead time," said Donna Speciale, president of Turner Entertainment and young adult ad sales. "With time, and brands on hand, we can do it correctly."

Turner's deal with MillerCoors, which was struck in March and lasts through the end of the year, has resulted in over 40 placements of 10 brands, according to Turner, including Blue Moon in "Rizzoli & Isles," Miller Lite in "Dallas" and Coors Light in "Sullivan & Son."

While deals like these run the risk of alienating viewers with overt marketing, Ms. Speciale insists the integrations will be organic. "We are not force-fitting these integrations," she said.

As part of their deal, Turner and Starcom will work together on a research study to better understand the return on brand integrations.

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