December 11, 2019

Advertising: Using ‘Sponsored Content’ to Keep Viewers Watching

The reason behind those efforts to keep consumers interested in ads rather than avoiding them is economic. In the coming “upfront” negotiations, marketers will be asked by the networks and channels to buy commercial time — and, in all likelihood, pay more for it. But marketers may be reluctant to do so if viewers do not make time to watch commercials.

The new buzz phrase on Madison Avenue for the creation of sponsored content is content marketing, although it is also being called content advertising and native advertising. More familiar terms for the trend include branded content, branded entertainment and advertorials.

Among the purveyors of programming that are most active in developing commercials for marketers is Scripps Networks Interactive, the parent of cable channels that include DIY, Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel.

As the company starts a series of 2013-14 upfront presentations, in markets like Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and New York, a primary selling point of its executives is to create commercials that are styled like program content — some even featuring the hosts of shows who appear on the channels.

“Each spring, we have lots and lots of account-specific meetings with agency folks, and sometimes the client is in the room,” said Jonathan LaConti, vice president for ad sales at the New York office of Scripps Networks Interactive. “We create solutions to meet their needs.”

In making a commercial composed of sponsored content, “we want to be really careful,” Mr. LaConti said, that it “looks really natural” rather than like a sales spiel. And if a host of a Scripps Networks Interactive show is involved, the sponsor ought to be “closely aligned with his brand,” he added, to prevent perceptions of selling out.

As a result, the production of such spots can be “terribly complicated,” said John Dailey, senior vice president of Eastern region ad sales for the home category at the New York office of Scripps Networks Interactive.

And “a lot of nail biting” can occur, he added, describing “a day in November when, if we did not get a signed talent agreement” for a host who was to appear in a commercial, “we would not have been able to get it on the air in time for the date we’d identified.”

But the additional work is worth it to marketers, Mr. Dailey said he believed, because they “feel that cuts through the clutter,” particularly when “consumers can access the content across a number of touch points,” meaning online as well as on television.

And the additional work is worth it to Scripps Networks Interactive, which during the upfront market before the 2012-13 season, booked consolidated ad sales of more than $1 billion, said Jon Steinlauf, executive vice president for ad sales and marketing at the New York office, the first time that milestone was reached.

Some deals the company makes to produce customized commercials for marketers are valued at more than $10 million apiece. They include an elaborate agreement with the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company in which the MEC media agency, part of the GroupM unit of WPP, was “a terrific collaborator,” Mr. Dailey said.

That deal involves, in addition to commercials on four cable channels that are to begin this week, online ads and advertorials in two magazines, Food Network Magazine and HGTV Magazine, published by a unit of the Hearst Corporation in a joint venture with Scripps Networks Interactive.

“The zapping is getting easier and easier,” said Jim Lyski, chief marketing officer at Scotts Miracle-Gro in Marysville, Ohio. “For our brands to thrive in the new media world, we have to put a lot of effort into content creation and content curation.”

“When we do, the ads are remembered and break through and are considered highly relevant,” he added, because consumers “are almost volunteering to watch” the customized commercials, which they perceive as “in the context of what they’re already watching; it flows naturally.”

Another marketer that has teamed with Scripps Networks Interactive for a significant content-creation agreement is the Land Rover brand sold by the Jaguar Land Rover North America unit of Tata Motors, working with two WPP agencies, YR and Mindshare.

The deal includes customized commercials for television and the Web, under the rubric “Travel Channel’s Road to the Unexpected,” featuring a Travel Channel host, Don Wildman, driving Land Rovers in Bolivia, Britain, Jamaica and Quebec, and accompanying teasers — yes, commercials for commercials — to promote the spots.

“When you co-create with Travel Channel, they bring the perspective of their consumers to the project and help us begin a dialogue with them,” said Danielle Koffer, managing director for client leadership at Mindshare in New York,

“This is the fruits of our labors from last year’s upfront,” she added. “We’ll be looking to do more in this year’s upfront.”

Kim McCullough, brand vice president at Land Rover in Mahwah, N.J., said, “We’re looking for extended partnerships that can provide content throughout the year, not only on TV but also online, and gives us content for social media.”

For instance, Mr. Wildman, on his Twitter feed last week, told his followers, “In my next life I’m coming back as a Range Rover.” The comment was subsequently reposted by Land Rover from its Twitter feed.

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Media Decoder Blog: Madison Avenue Reveals More of Its Super Bowl Playbook

Super Bowl XLVII is now only IX — er, um, make that nine — days away, and the closer the game draws, the more information Super Bowl sponsors are sharing about their plans.

What follows is the most recent news about nine marketers that are buying commercial time during the game, which will be broadcast by CBS on Feb. 3.

Anheuser-Busch InBev: The Anheuser-Busch division of Anheuser-Busch InBev is to release a teaser clip on Monday to promote a Super Bowl commercial for a new beer, Beck’s Sapphire.  After several days of teasing on Facebook and YouTube, the full commercial will get a preview on YouTube on Feb. 1 and 2 before it runs during the game.

The commercial, by the ad agency Mother, will feature an animated goldfish — black, the same color as the Beck’s Sapphire bottle — singing a version of the hip-hop hit “No Diggity” by an Australian musician, Chet Faker.

Anheuser-Busch also plans a sneak peek in full of a second commercial, for Budweiser, beginning on Wednesday. The company’s four other planned commercials — two for Bud Light and two for another new beer, Budweiser Black Crown — will be the subjects of teaser clips but will not be shared in full before they run during the game.

E*Trade Group: The E*Trade “talking” baby will return for another Super Bowl, the company said on Friday. The 30-second spot, in the third quarter, is being created by Grey New York, part of the Grey unit of the Grey Group, a WPP agency.

Go Daddy Group: The company posted online on Friday one of the two commercials it plans to run during the game. The 30-second spot promotes registering .co domain names with and features a cameo by longtime Go Daddy endorser Danica Patrick.

Both Go Daddy commercials are being created by Deutsch, part of the Lowe Partners unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies.

Hyundai Motor Group: The company’s Kia brand will offer moviegoers an advance look at one of its two Super Bowl commercials. A 60-second spot for the Kia Sorento titled “Space Babies” will begin to be shown next Friday in movie theaters that offer the FirstLook preshow program from NCM Media Networks.

Milk Processor Education Program: For its first Super Bowl commercial — a 30-second spot to run in the second quarter of the game — the national organization that encourages milk consumption signed Dwayne Johnson, the actor known as the Rock, for a humorous look at how far a father will go to get milk for his children’s breakfast.

A report about the commercial is scheduled to appear on “CBS This Morning” on Thursday, during which the spot is to run in full. A 60-second version will then be posted on Web sites like Facebook, and YouTube. Deutsch is creating the milk commercial as well as the commercials for GoDaddy.

The previews of the milk spot will help it get wider viewership, said Vivien Godfrey, chief executive of the organization, known as MilkPEP. “We want to reach as many people as we can.”

The Super Bowl spot is the centerpiece of a $10 million campaign, Ms. Godfrey said, that will include promotions, social media, print ads, in-store marketing and a tie-in with a program called Fuel Up to Play 60, sponsored by the National Football League and the National Dairy Council.

Mondelez International: The company began sharing additional information on Friday about a commercial for Oreo cookies that it plans to run during the first half of the game.

The 30-second commercial will focus on the longtime argument among Oreo devotees over which part they prefer, the cookie or the cream filling, known in Oreo parlance as “creme.” Brand fans will be directed to Instagram to continue the dispute. The spot is being created by Wieden Kennedy.

PepsiCo: The PepsiCo Beverages unit of PepsiCo is disclosing details about one of the two commercials it will run during the game, for Pepsi Next. (The other, for Pepsi-Cola, will promote the Beyonce halftime show being sponsored by that brand.)

At the end of the 30-second Pepsi Next commercial, viewers will be directed to a Web site (URL to be announced later) to apply to receive a coupon for a free two-liter bottle of Pepsi Next. The plans call for giving away a million coupons. TBWA/Chiat/Day, part of the TBWA Worldwide unit of the Omnicom Group, is creating the Pepsi Next spot.

Research in Motion: The company said on Friday that it would buy a commercial in Super Bowl XLVII to promote the new BlackBerry 10; it had not disclosed that previously.

The spot, which will run 30 seconds, will come four days after the official start of an extensive introductory campaign for the BlackBerry 10. The spot is being created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, part of the BBDO Worldwide unit of Omnicom.

Unilever: The company plans to release in full on Monday morning its first Super Bowl commercial for Axe products. The 30-second spot, called “Lifeguard,” is being created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, part of Publicis Groupe.

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Media Decoder Blog: Anheuser-Busch Will Promote Two New Products in Super Bowl XLVII Ads

The marketer that typically buys the most commercial time during the Super Bowl each year has ambitious plans for the game this year, which include pitches for two new products.

Anheuser-Busch, the division of Anheuser-Busch InBev that is usually the biggest advertiser on the Super Bowl, is buying four and a half minutes of commercial time from CBS, which will broadcast Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3.

Neither Anheuser-Busch nor CBS will discuss the purchase price. Estimates are that each 30-second spot in the game is going for an average of $3.7 million to $3.8 million, with some, according to CBS, costing more than $4 million apiece.

Anheuser-Busch also pays a fee to be the exclusive beer sponsor during each Super Bowl. That is why viewers do not see other beer brands during the game nationally; some brewers will try to circumvent that by buying spots during station breaks on local stations.

And Anheuser-Busch is also spending additional money with CBS to run commercials during the live streaming of the game, which the network plans to offer at

All the commercials shown during the broadcast of the game, including those from Anheuser-Busch, will be available on demand in the player immediately after they appear on TV. There will also be some online-only ads that will not turn up on television.

The four and a half minutes that Anheuser-Busch is buying during the game is the same amount of time that it purchased last year, for Super Bowl XLVI. And like last year, the company intends to run six commercials in those four and a half minutes.

The lineup of products, however, will be different this year. Last year, Anheuser-Busch ran two commercials for a new beer, Bud Light Platinum; two commercials for Budweiser; and two commercials for Bud Light.

This time around, there will be one commercial for Budweiser, two for Bud Light and three for two new beers: Budweiser Black Crown, which is to be pitched in two commercials, and Beck’s Sapphire,  which will get one spot.

It can be risky to try to introduce products during the Super Bowl because of all the marketing clamor on Super Bowl Sunday. Partying viewers, for instance, may be distracted and not paying full attention to the spots. So some marketers prefer to run commercials for brands that are already familiar.

But the decision last year to introduce Bud Light Platinum during Super Bowl XLVI paid off “extraordinarily,” Paul D. Chibe, vice president for United States marketing at Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, said in an interview on Thursday in Midtown Manhattan.

“We achieved our awareness objectives much more quickly than we anticipated,” Mr. Chibe said, through the Super Bowl spots and a social media campaign that complemented those commercials, which included the hashtag #MakeItPlatinum.

The fact that so many people tuning in the Super Bowl “are there to watch the commercials” makes it a unique place for introducing products, Mr. Chibe said, particularly beers, given that the game was “the largest beer occasion” last year.

As a result, “we have a special relevance in the game,” he added.

Mr. Chibe declined to discuss the six commercials in detail, describing them as still in production. He did, however, share some information about them.

The commercial for Budweiser, being created by a New York agency, Anomaly, that is part of MDC Partners, will run 60 seconds and feature the brand’s well-known Clydesdales.

The plot is centered on “a young Clydesdale horse and its relationships,” Mr. Chibe said, and is in the “heartwarming” vein.

The two commercials for Bud Light, each 60 seconds, are being created by another New York agency, Translation. They will serve as the culmination of a campaign, which has run during the 2012-13 football season, that is centered on the superstitious behavior of fans who will “do anything for their team to win,” Mr. Chibe said.

The two spots will be based in New Orleans, he added, where Super Bowl XLVII is to be played, and be “Super Bowl-centric.”

The two commercials for Budweiser Black Crown, each 30 seconds, are also being created by Anomaly. A hashtag, #TasteThis, is being disseminated as part of the social media campaign that will accompany the commercials, Mr. Chibe said.

Finally, the commercial for Beck’s Sapphire, also 30 seconds long, is being created by a London agency, Mother. The approach will reflect how the brand is being “launched with the name of a rare jewel,” Mr. Chibe said, and treated “like a jeweler would launch a rare jewelry brand.”

The commercial will be “visually different,” Mr. Chibe promised, as viewers will “see that sapphire glow” and the black Beck’s Sapphire bottle.

“It’s going to be cool,” he added. “We expect it to break through.”

Anheuser-Busch has long been a Super Bowl mainstay along with movie studios like Disney, Paramount and Universal and marketers that include Coca-Cola, GoDaddy, Hyundai, Mars, PepsiCo, Toyota and Volkswagen.

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Product Placements Find Fresh Territory in Telenovelas

Coming off a strong upfront season — when advertisers buy commercial time before the season — the two major Spanish language television networks, Telemundo and Univision, are lining up more opportunities for advertisers wanting to incorporate their products into their telenovelas.

While the idea of product placement, or as marketers prefer to call it, branded entertainment, is far from new, the campaigns are becoming increasingly sophisticated with elements that take the products from the telenovela to the Web and mobile devices.

In the Corazón campaign, viewers can watch what the network is calling “webvelas” featuring parallel story lines of original content starring Carlos Ferro, playing Camilo Andrade, and Cynthia Olavarría, playing Sofia Palacios. The mini-Web series, which will be called “Y Vuelvo a Ti,” features the characters doing things like paying for a meal using a Chase debit card or using a Chase ATM.

“You don’t normally think about financial advertisers getting involved in story lines,” said Dan Lovinger, executive vice president for advertising sales and integrated marketing at Telemundo, part of the NBCUniversal unit of Comcast. “It’s a subtle, organic, conscientious effort to make Chase a part of our world.”

Viewers can visit a Chase microsite for the show, follow the series on Facebook, watch it on their mobile phones and get text messages prompting them to tune in to the show or to go online. They can also download music from the Chase commercials and enter a contest to win a behind-the-scenes tour of the Telemundo studios. Mr. Lovinger described the strategy as “organic, but pervasive.”

Telemundo’s biggest competitor, Univision Communications, also has ramped up its product placements with advertisers like General Motors and Domino’s pizza incorporated directly into story lines for its show “Eva Luna,” about an advertising agency.

For a promotion involving the Buick Regal last season, the show’s lead character wins the account and shows the Buick team a commercial the agency created. That same commercial aired on the network and its affiliates apart from the show. In other episodes, the characters were shown ordering pizza from Domino’s for a late-night work session.

“It can’t be contrived, it has to be real,” said Steve Tihanyi, the director of branded entertainment and marketing alliances at General Motors. “In a way it was art imitating life, or life imitating art.”

General Motors will also feature its cars in a new Univision telenovela called “Talisman.”

“As integration has become more and more important for our advertising partners we keep raising the bar on what solutions we can offer,” said David Lawenda, president of advertising sales and marketing for Univision.

Until January, the network carried programming created by the Mexican TV giant Televisa, which limited options for brand integration since the shows were already filmed before being distributed through Univision. Because of the partnership with Televisa, Univision can now work on product placement in Televisa-produced content.

In this year’s upfront presentation, Univision reported commercial sales between $1.7 billion and $1.8 billion. “There’s no question that our dollar-volume growth was largely due to some of these major branded entertainment sponsorships that we sold,” Mr. Lawenda said.

“I think the ultimate possibility is actually to create an entire novela with an advertising partner,” said Mr. Lovinger, of Telemundo. According to Adweek, Telemundo reported a 20 percent increase in upfront sales from last year, to around $400 million.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 28, 2011

An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Univision’s capabilities in its partnership with Televisa. Univision has filmed its own telenovelas before; the partnership does not allow it to film them for the first time.

The article also incorrectly quoted David Lawenda, president of advertising sales and marketing for Univision. He said there was no question that the company’s dollar-volume growth, not dollar-value growth, was the result of major sponsorships.

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Media Decoder: CBS on Top, Again, as Upfront Market Ends

As the big English-language broadcast networks wrap up their advertising sales before the start of the 2011-12 season, in what is known as the upfront market, CBS is again taking the lead in total volume.

CBS completed its upfront sales process on Thursday, hours after ABC said that it had finished. Like ABC, and the other two broadcasters that are done, CW and Fox, sales executives at CBS are writing business with robust increases in total volume as well as in rates.

CBS’s total volume is being estimated at $2.5 billion to $2.55 billion, compared with $2.4 billion in the upfront market last year, which took place before the start of the 2010-11 season. Like last year, ABC’s total volume is second to CBS’s. ABC’s tally is being estimated at $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion.

Fox Broadcasting, which was first across the finish line last Thursday, is estimated to have sold $1.98 billion to $1.99 billion. CW, which was done on Tuesday, is estimated at $400 million to $420 million.

NBC is expected to complete its upfront sales later on Thursday or Friday. NBC is estimated to have sold $1.6 billion in total volume in the upfront market last year, and no analyst expects NBC’s take to grow so much that it would surpass CBS’s.

In terms of rate increases, known as cost per thousand viewers, CBS is also running ahead of its competitors.

The CBS increases in cost per thousand viewers are being estimated at 13 to 15 percent. The network’s sales executives were reported to have initially asked for increases in the range of 18 percent.

ABC, Fox and CW all increased their rates at around 10 to 11 percent.

Analysts had predicted that the five big English-language networks would do well because of the recent strong demand for commercial time on television.

As for its inventory, CBS sold about 80 percent of its total commercial time for the coming season in the upfront market.

Fox also sold about 80 percent and CW sold an estimated 75 to 80 percent. It was not immediately known what ABC decided to do about its inventory.

Commercial time that is not sold in the upfront market is held back to sell during the season in what is known as the scatter market.

In addition to the major English-language broadcasters, there are upfront markets for Hispanic television as well as cable channels.

ABC is part of the Walt Disney Company. CBS is owned by the CBS Corporation. CW is owned by the CBS Corporation and Time Warner. Fox is part of the News Corporation. And NBC is a unit of the NBCUniversal division of Comcast.

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