Put fresh batteries in your remote: Monday night is the official start of the fall TV season.
With millions of viewers hungry for new prime-time programming, marketers are looking to cash in by tying their brands to must-see TV.
Gemstar-TV Guide International gmst Monday night will begin airing show-specific commercials that pitch its TV Guide magazine, website and cable channel as the go-to sources of behind-the-scenes scoops and star interviews between new episodes of their favorite shows.
An ad that will run this week toward the end of ABC's Grey's Anatomy, for example, begins counting down the number of "heartbeats" until the next show (from 601,000) and reassures viewers that TV Guide's outlets will "get you through the week." The brand will have a total of 13 ads tailored to individual shows, including Fox's Prison Break, NBC's Heroes and CBS' Survivor: China.
The goal is an image shift from "just a magazine of listings" to "the resource to help satiate a viewer's needs until the next episode," says Peter Krivkovich, CEO of TV Guide ad agency Cramer-Krasselt.
The company has prime placement in the second half of each show, says Gemstar chief marketing officer Alan Cohen. "Tying (the campaign) to the launch of the fall TV season made a lot of strategic sense for us. People have a passion for their favorite show."
Other marketers also linked brands to the TV season opening, some with formal promotion partnerships. Those include a trio of car brands and a restaurant chain:
•Cadillac. gm The luxury brand is the official sponsor of the whole prime-time lineup tonight on CBS.
Throughout the evening, CBS will air promos with CSI: Miami star Adam Rodriguez next to a red Caddy CTS. He proclaims the night "The Cadillac of Premieres."
CBS' marketing agency Initiative also created a program of information about CBS shows and about the redesigned 2008 CTS for packaging on USB flash drives and viewing on a computer. The drives were included with subscriber copies of the Sept. 21 Entertainment Weekly.
"We liked the (joint promotion) because it draws attention to our program premieres," says CBS Marketing Group President George Schweitzer. "Together, we're both pushing the message out there for CBS and Cadillac."
•Applebee's. appb In a product placement deal, Applebee's will be a hangout for Friday Night Lights characters for a second season. Meanwhile, about 1,500 of Applebee's 1,937 restaurants have promotional posters aimed at building "tune-in for the premiere and the season in general," says Caroline Boese, associate entertainment director at Applebee's media buying agency Starcom USA.
•Nissan. NSANY Every night this week, NBC and Nissan will give away a 2008 Nissan Rogue SL crossover SUV that includes a plaque signed by Tim Kring, creator of Heroes. To win one of the five Rogues, viewers must go to www.nbc.com/nissan and answer a question about that night's show. The Rogue also will have placement in Heroes.
Barbara Blangiardi, NBC head of strategic marketing and content innovation, sees more such cross-promotions. "It's mutually beneficial, and we'd love to do more of it."
•Honda. HMC NBC and Honda created offbeat vignettes promoting both the redesigned Accord and NBC's new shows. For example, one this month had a couple in the Accord discussing the benefits of a bionic tongue. That spot ended with a plug for Wednesday's Bionic Woman premiere.
Says Lisa Herdman, associate director of network programming at Honda ad agency RPA: "Our goals were the same. NBC needed people to see their shows, and we needed people to see that the new Accord was coming. So why not do it together instead of fighting each other (for viewers' attention)?"
NEW AND NOTABLE
The ultimate socially responsible snack has arrived. Cookies from Boston-based Lovely Liz are certified organic by the Northeast Organic Farmers Association, certified Fair Trade by TransFair USA and, yes, certified vegan by Vegan Action.
Not to mention that they're trans-fat-free.
It's still a guilty pleasure when it comes to calories, however. One serving (a half-cookie) of Peanut Butter Classics: 210 calories.
Battling for brides.
Watch your buttoned-up back, David's Bridal (and Vera Wang, for that matter). New rivals are crowding the lucrative wedding dress aisle.
Disney's new "Princess" line lets blushing brides look like maidens such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Snow White.
And for the not-so-blushing brides, maternity brands A Pea in the Pod and Mimi Maternity have entered the matrimonial market with dresses for taking that baby bump down the aisle in style.
Kiss and sell.
Classic rock band Kiss has licensed its name for everything from condoms to coffins. Now the face-painted rock band is trying out to a young generation of aspiring glam-rockers.
They were in New York City last week to help Hasbro launch a $69 Power Tour electric guitar for young kids and are in talks with Hasbro's Tiger Electronics for a Kiss-branded version. Also under discussion: a Kiss version of the Tiger's i-Dog dancing speakers for iPods.
"There's no limit to what we can do — but you also don't want to flood the marketplace," Kiss frontman Gene Simmons says.
Tiger already uses the band's 1975 Rock and Roll All Nite on its musical toothbrush that's sold 3 million since hitting shelves in February. Now, Kiss members Simmons and Paul Stanley will join teeny boppers Miley Cyrus and Corbin Bleu in new ads beginning Oct. 6 for the $10 Tooth Tunes brush.
Still teaching on YouTube.
A sure way to make your ad a YouTube hit: Kill it.
Regional burger chains Carl's Jr. and Hardee's saw the light last week when Hardee's killed and Carl's greatly modified "Flat Buns" — a naughty TV spot for their new Patty Melt on a flat bun.
The ad featured a sexy teacher in a pencil skirt gyrating to a rap by her pumped-up class celebrating flat booty. The back-to-school season ad drew howls from teachers and their unions.
"We intended it to be a humorous, music-video parody," says Brad Haley, the chain's marketing chief. "But it wasn't playing the way it was intended for a large group of people — including educators. It was designed to be funny, not insulting."
This is, however, the company that gave the world the commercial featuring a lot of Paris Hilton giving herself and her Bentley a soapy, sultry wash.
"We don't push the envelope with every single ad we do," Haley says. The chain is simply targeting males 18 to 34, he says. "We call them young, hungry guys."
Hungry for what? "Burgers," he says.
Good, clean ads.
Who (maybe politicians) would have guessed dirty laundry and advertising would be such a potent combo? ABC joined marketers using ads on dry-cleaning bags to hype Desperate Housewives. Now CBS aims to clean up in the ratings a coin-operated laundry promo: Washers in Southern California were covered in cling wraps promoting The Big Bang Theory.
Ads on washers. Ads on YouTube. Ads everywhere. You'd think we'd be sick of advertising. But no. Starting today, New York City hosts the annual Advertising Week — a week-long celebration of the business — with panels, parties, debates and, of course, award shows.
By Laura Petrecca, Theresa Howard, Bruce Horovitz
Q: We loved the Taco Bell ad that aired on MTV's Video Music Awards and showed winners from a contest. Can you tell us more about the three faces, especially Hunter. Will this be on again?
A: You can see him again — but only on the Web. Mallory Anderson, 19, of Weston, Fla., Obinna Odumodu, 26, of Huntsville, Ala., and your favorite, Hunter Larson, 27, of Virginia Beach won Taco Bell's "TV Me!" ad auditions for personal "avatars" — animated 3D figures. About 17,000 entrants created avatars at site Gizmoz using their own photos and voices.
Your man Hunter's avatar auditioned with a weird tale of Taco Bell food, a piñata and a microwave. The 6-foot-1 graduate of Boston College is an information technology specialist for consulting firm Accenture. Oh, did we mention he's married?
You can see the ad and auditions at tacobell.com.