TV advertisers, networks try more ways to snag viewers

"It's designed that way to retain the audience to make sure they don't walk away," says Tanya Zvonkin, group director of national broadcast for ad-buying firm PHD, who configured the ad for the show. "There will be no bathroom breaks in my commercials."

•Sunsilk. The Unilever un hair care brand worked with TBS to create Lovebites, a series of two-minute "minisodes" about 25-year-old Callie and her struggles with love and career. They open with "Sunsilk proudly presents" and end with an offer of product samples at the Sunsilk website. The series recently began a second season during Sex and the City.

"We're getting into more creative stuff, which is fun," says Yaccarino. TBS is working with advertisers for two more minisodes series for next year.

•Warner Bros. To drive opening weekend box office for the film Fred Claus, the studio last week sponsored the Monday 8-to-10 p.m. block of four sitcoms on CBS that included How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men and Rules of Engagement. Dubbed "Better Watch Out Monday Night," each show opened with a 15-second bit with the "Watch Out" theme that had a three-second clip from the film and a message to stay tuned for a sneak preview. After Rules of Engagement, a 90-second trailer aired.

CBS is continuing to try to be creative. "It's about providing a full experience for the viewer so they don't feel as much the need to walk away," says Linda Rene, senior vice president of network sales. "It's not all going to work, but something is going to stick here and there."

•General Motors. gm The No. 2 U.S. ad spender continues to look beyond 30-second ads. GM kicked off the fall season with a roster of CBS tie-ins, including putting its vehicles in shows such as CSI and CSI: Miami. Also, CSI: Miami cast member Adam Rodriguez appeared with Cadillac's CTS throughout premiere week in promotions for CBS shows.

Says Betsy Lazar, GM's head of advertising and media operations, "Marketers are identifying (programming options) and engaging consumers in different ways beyond the commercial."


Don't pick on the pup.

Miller Brewing ads have taken shots at Anheuser-Busch bud products, but Miller touched a nerve with a new TV ad that shows one of A-B's beloved Dalmatians abandoning his post on a Budweiser Clydesdale hitch for a ride in a Miller Lite truck. A-B fired back with a USA TODAY ad. "Their latest attack? Our wagon-riding Dalmatian. Our response? A donation to a number of animal rescue groups," it read.

"We decided to turn their negative into a positive gesture from us," says David Peacock, A-B marketing vice president.

The good deed hasn't inspired Miller to puppy love: "We're going to continue to point out that Miller Lite is a doggone better beer, with doggone less carbs and calories than Bud Light," retorts spokesman Julian Green.

Scratch 'n gift.

That smell wafting from wallets? It ain't greenbacks. It's, well … it's strawberry pie. Specifically, a Shoney's gift card scented to smell like the casual-dining chain's famous fruit dessert.

This month, Shoney's began to offer the berry-scented gift card in amounts up to $100. And, no, gift card recipients don't have to buy pie with it — it's good for anything on the menu. Those who aren't bowled over by berry soon will have other choices: Shoney's will offer chocolate-scented "hot fudge cake" and maple-scented "pancake" gift cards as well.

Bah, humbug.

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