Olympic promotion

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NBC is putting $150 million in promotion support behind the "2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics."

Some 2,000 to 3,000 gross ratings points of NBC ad time have been devoted to the games since the network fully commenced its effort last summer. So far about a dozen profile spots on the athletes have run via the NBC Agency, the network's in-house promotion unit.

General Electric Co.'s NBC is also getting what amounts to $50 million in promotion time through its MSNBC and CNBC cable affiliates. The NBC Agency produced special spots for cable.

As part of its push, NBC produced an elaborate 90-second in-theater trailer that began running this month in 4,000 theaters in the top 25 markets. The trailer shows a snowboarder knifing down a mountain and running into different adventures along the way. "It is meant to be viral," said John Miller, co-president of the NBC Agency. "We have to make sure that the 12-34 demo knows what the Olympics is."

NBC made a number of product-placement deals for the trailer. For instance, the snowboarder goes by a billboard that says, "E.T. The re-release." This was paid for by Vivendi Universal's Universal Studios, to hype the re-release later this year of "E.T: The Extraterrestrial." At another point there is a scene showing the underside of the snowboard, which promotes Hotsnow.com, a Microsoft Corp. young-skewing Web site which focuses on extreme snow sports. Microsoft also paid a product placement fee.

The 90-second Olympics trailer is also on the beginning of Sony Pictures Entertainment's recently released home video "A Knight's Tale."

NBC is using the Olympics as a major launching pad for three mid-season shows: Julia Louis-Dreyfus' "Watching Ellie," urban comedy "Leap of Faith" and Hank Azaria's "Imagine That." About 500 to 800 gross rating points are being used to launch each show overall-over half of those during the Olympics, which air Feb. 8 to Feb. 24, amid the February sweeps. Vince Manze, co-president of the NBC Agency, says much of the creative will feature Mr. Azaria and Ms. Louis-Dreyfus, in separate spots, responding to Olympic events aired by NBC.

Much of the network's on-air promotion for the two shows will be in the second week of the Olympics, said Mr. Manze. Time set aside the first week of the Olympics primarily goes to make-good paid commercial inventory NBC needs to give to advertisers.

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