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P&G eyes unlimited ABC buy

Apr 30, 2001  •  Post A Comment

In the most significant sign yet that marketers are seriously interested in integrated, cross-platform deals, Procter & Gamble is in discussions with ABC Unlimited about a multimillion-dollar pact that would include advertising exposure on a number of Walt Disney Co.-owned properties.
P&G was the nation’s second-biggest spender on network and cable TV ads last year and the biggest spender on syndication. In total, the packaged-goods giant spent about $885 million buying ads in those three categories in 2000, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
ABC Unlimited was formed in September to sell marketers into multiple properties owned and operated by ABC and its parent, Disney. Laura Nathanson, executive vice president of national sales for the ABC TV Network, has overall responsibility for the unit, which is headed by Bill Bund. The first ABC Unlimited deal was with EAS Corp. and cut across 13 properties.
Other networks and media giants have their own versions of ABC Unlimited. And some of them have landed big clients. Viacom Plus, for example, sealed a deal with DaimlerChrysler.
The significance of a potential P&G deal is, however, that P&G would be the biggest national TV spender yet to participate in a pact with one of these major integrated marketing units. Furthermore, P&G is considered by many a bellwether marketer that is not afraid to experiment with new marketing ideas.
Details are scant about the deal under discussion. It would likely involve at first a limited number of P&G brands, sources said.
Also, at least one major media unit co-owned by Disney-Lifetime Television-would be excluded from the package. “Lifetime has had its own special relationship with P&G, and both sides thought it best for that to remain separate,” said one source. For example, in years past P&G has been the sole sponsor of some Lifetime programming.
However, at least four other major TV properties are likely to be included in the deal: ABC itself and cable networks A&E, E! Entertainment Television and ESPN.

P&G was the third-largest spender on ABC last year, paying a hefty $143 million for commercial time on the network, according to CMR.
On A&E, P&G spent about $7 million last year, ranking it the eighth-biggest spender on the cable network. (P&G was Lifetime’s No. 1 marketer last year, spending $43 million on the network, according to CMR.)
While the ABC Unlimited-P&G discussions continue as the upfront selling season approaches, the deal is unrelated to the upfront, according to one executive familiar with the talks.
“At some point, with all the consolidation of media properties we’ve seen and continue to see, I would imagine that these cross-media deals will be very important to some major advertisers as part of their upfront purchase,” said one buyer.
A number of media agencies and networks, especially cable networks, have already begun to talk to each other about the upfront as the
annual mating ritual begins.
At a panel discussion at the annual media conference of the American Association of Advertising Agencies in March, executives from some of the world’s biggest media agencies said cross-platform deals might make up as much as 40 percent of marketers’ spending by 2006.