Marketers in Fab 5 lovefest

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While the Beatles were pursued by teen girls, the "gay Beatles"-or the Fab Five from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"-are being chased by marketers eager to tap into their newfound cult status.

The show on the Bravo cable network, already noted as a textbook study in product placement, has attracted attention from marketers of every category. Leading off is Revlon's Almay brand, which is considering using the five men to help launch a line, according to executives familiar with the talks. Almay representatives are known to have met with talent agents at William Morris, which works on behalf of two of the five.

Revlon's agency of record, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, had no comment.

Revlon is far from alone. Advertising Age sibling Crain's Chicago Business reported earlier this week that cooking expert Ted Allen was in talks with General Mills. Housewares stores such as Crate & Barrel and Pier One have also sent out feelers to interior designer Thom Filicia. A spokeswoman for Pier One said only that the firm was looking at a number of new creative directions. Pier One's agency, Interpublic's Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., declined to comment.

Both Mr. Filicia and Mr. Allen are managed by Michael Flutie of Flutie Entertainment. Mr. Flutie said he was astounded at the lack of initial interest from marketers when he started making calls on his clients' behalf. Now it's a different story.

Mr. Flutie declined to discuss specifics, but said, "We are having many conversations with blue-chip companies in the cosmetics, fashion, fragrance and the food business. Part of our strategy is to align the talent with synergistic relationships that support the talent and NBC/Bravo."

contract talks

The Fab Five is in the midst of renewing their $3,000 per episode contracts with Bravo and its owner, General Electric Corp.'s NBC. Those talks are expected to outline the bounds of their relationship with the network and the extent to which they can take on other deals with marketers. A 30-second spot airing during "Queer Eye" costs about $11,000, according to media buying executives.

Scout Productions, which produces the show, is in the throes of talks for a new series. "Queer Eye" holds the record as Bravo's highest-rated series ever-it improved summer ratings by 123% for the network. NBC has also aired episodes of the show. Bravo did not return calls by press time.

"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" features five gay lifestyle experts who make over a hapless straight man. The straight man is usually challenged in every social way from hairstyle to home decor. The show has been praised for its use of appropriate product placement. One of the most regular plugs has been for Benjamin Moore & Co. paint, though liquor brand DiSaronno Amaretto, which also bought time during the show, has also been featured.

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