Ad Track: Advertisers turn to live sports to zap ad zapping

"This is a way to keep more people engaged in those early rounds when the games are unique," says Chris Simko, senior vice president sports sales and marketing. "The goal is to keep them engaged with the tournament so that when we get down to the Final Four and championship nights they stay with us to the end."

•NBC. The network is about 70% sold out of ad inventory for this summer's Olympics in Beijing. It expects more than $1 billion in ad revenue, with 30-second prime-time spots selling for an average of $750,000, 15% more than prime-time rates for the 2004 Games in Athens. Starting on Aug. 8, the network will begin 17 days of coverage with 3,600 hours of programming across all media including live streaming video.

"Projections for Beijing are north of $1 billion," says NBC spokesman, Brian Walker. "Interest in the Games is very strong, with advertisers buying across all platforms, prime time, cable and digital."

NEW & NOTABLE

Misty-eyed marketing.

ABC and TV Guide have joined to promote Sunday night's tear-jerker TV: the premiere of Oprah's Big Give charity-focused show and a new Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Some 150,000 TV Guide subscribers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago will get a packet of tissues advertising the shows with today's edition.

It may be rival network heads who have to blot tears. Oprah Winfrey doesn't host the new show — decorator Nate Berkus stars — but she is an executive producer and will do guest spots. And her name alone may be ratings magic for the series about fulfilling the dreams of regular folks.

Going to the dogs.

As humans lap up fortified drinks, beverage maker Cott has rolled out FortiFido enhanced water for their dogs.

The one- and two-liter jugs come in four flavors, including spearmint (beats doggy breath) and peanut butter with added calcium (for strong bones). The press release made the Ad Team want to howl. Dave Vautrin, vice president of marketing and innovation, actually says, "The concept has 'legs.' "

In case you wonder, FortiFido.com says not to worry if the kids get a taste for the stuff in Fido's bowl: "While we don't suggest that a child routinely drink FortiFido, it is made of ingredients that are safe for human consumption."

Here's the scoop.

Baskin-Robbins hopes to make a mint off putting York Peppermint Pattie into the chain's cones, sundaes and shakes.

The silver wrapper on the mint-chocolate candies is recognized by the large script "Y" in "York." Ad Team thinks Baskin-Robbins' $4.99 York Peppermint Pattie Brownie Sundae should come with a giant "C" — for calories. The minty pieces, ice cream, hot fudge and brownie bites weigh in at 1,610 calories.

Cooking for the planet.

If culinary students have their way, future cuisine will be greener and reflect international fusion. Green business practices will play "some role" in their careers, say 97% of 906 students from the International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes recently surveyed online. The Pittsburgh-based cooking school offers training in more than 30 locations.

About 84% would consider a fusion specialty mixing world cuisines. Top combos: Japanese/French, followed by Thai/Mexican.

Playmate pick-me-up.

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