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Buys Product Placements in WB's 'One Tree Hill'

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NEW YORK ( -- MasterCard International expanded its branded-entertainment efforts last night with its first foray into scripted drama, a tie-in with the WB network's teen drama One Tree Hill.
A MasterCard debit card made three appearances during the episode.

The deal included three appearances during the episode (the card's logo is seen in one restaurant and characters twice use a MasterCard debit card as part of the plot) as well as a sweepstakes promotion tied to the release of the show's first season on DVD. Buyers who use MasterCard to purchase the DVD and CD of the show's sound track get a poster and are entered in a contest to win a chance to win a trip to the show's set.

MasterCard has done tie-ins before, but mainly with nonfiction programming such as A&E's Biography series and documentary programs on the History Channel, linked to the sale of show DVDs, said Betty Pat McCoy, senior vice president and director of national broadcast buying at Omnicom Group's GSD&M, Chicago, MasterCard's media agency.

'Just clicked'
GSD&M had been working with the WB for two years, seeking integration opportunities for MasterCard in scripted drama, but had not found a way to do it, Ms. McCoy said. "This spring, it just clicked," she said.

The integration was "extremely organic, which is always our goal," she noted.

"It's not a sticker on the wall, which does nothing for us," said Michael Lao, MasterCard's vice president of global media.

Ms. McCoy did not disclose the terms of the financial arrangement, except to say it was a standard industry deal. The deal was part of MasterCard's overall media buy with the WB, negotiated during the TV ad sales marketplace known as the upfront, Mr. Lao said.

Network skews young
"The WB environment is a way to reach the younger viewer," Ms. McCoy said. She noted 35% of One Tree Hill's viewers are in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic, which made it a good vehicle for promoting the debit card, a product popular with younger consumers.

MasterCard will continue to seek out such tie-ins, Ms. McCoy said. GSD&M is working on another tie-in with the DVD release of a cable documentary program during the second quarter, but it will not include in-show content.

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