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B of A and AOL TW form mega-alliance

Jul 16, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Cable News Network will be coming soon to “Law & Order” on TNT.
And TV spots for Warner Bros. movies and Turner cable TV shows could be coming to an ATM screen near you.
At the cable upfront last week, AOL Time Warner announced a big cross-platform, integrated-media deal with Bank of America. That extension of the CNN brand and new advertising opportunities for both AOL TW and B of A are among its elements.
The three-year deal is worth an estimated $30 million in its first year, according to both Turner and B of A officials. With “escalators” in place for the deal’s second and third years, it could be worth about $100 million in all, according to one official close to the deal.
Spending totals beyond the first year are a “little grayer” at this point and will be determined by the first-year performance of the alliance between the media giant and the banking giant, according to another official close to the deal.
By comparison, Bank of America will have spent a total of $100 million on TV advertising in the 12 months ending this September. And although direct comparisons between this deal and previous upfront years are difficult, B of A spent less than $10 million with the Turner cable channels in last year’s buoyant upfront, Turner and B of A officials said.
This year’s cross-platform deal is at a single-digit discount from last year’s cost per thousand, a Turner official said.
As part of the agreement, B of A will sponsor 30-second financial updates derived from CNN’s “Moneyline” that will run inside “Law & Order” episodes on TNT.
It’s the first repurposing of CNN’s content to an entertainment channel, said Larry Goodman, CNN’s president, sales and marketing, who was point man on the deal for the Turner side. “`Law & Order’ looks right [for B of A],” he said. “It has an upscale audience [with] a profile that looks like a typical investor.”
At the other end of the unique two-way deal, AOL TW will launch its own advertisements across a range of Bank of America banking channels, including inside bank branches, across Web-enabled ATM screens, during telephone-banking recordings, on monthly statements and on B of A’s Web site.
B of A’s Web-enabled ATMs, which currently are being rolled out, are capable of “full-motion video and sound,” said Dan Roselli, Bank of America brand and communications executive and B of A’s point man for the agreement. “It’s very much like watching a TV.”
That opens the possibility that a banking customer might see an ad for an upcoming Warner Bros. movie or for an upcoming Turner cable TV show, but the first application is apt to be this fall’s rebranding of CNNfn as CNN Money, with which B of A will be strongly associated.
“To be linked to what will probably be the major launch of a financial media property during the year, CNN Money, and having Bank of America’s name associated with that puts us immediately in consumers’ minds as, `Bank of America is serious about getting my investment business,”’ Mr. Roselli said.
AOL TW “took the time to understand what our brand strategy was and … custom-developed and co-developed ideas around that,” he added.
Beyond the commitment to “Law & Order,” B of A will become an exclusive sponsor of a number of CNN and CNNfn/CNN Money elements. For example, B of A uses the term “ingenuity” in its own branding campaign; under the agreement, it will become exclusive sponsor of the “Ingenious Shot of the Day” feature on “CNN Sports Tonight” and the “Stroke of Ingenuity” feature during PGA golf and Wimbledon tennis reports.
B of A, which is positioning itself as a resource for investors, also will sponsor “Building Your Portfolio” features on “Moneyline.” And B of A’s commercials will air on TBS, CNN Headline News and CNN’s airport-based news service.
The overall deal not only spans a spectrum of Turner cable networks but also extends to Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money magazines.
One other reciprocal aspect of the deal is that it contains a sliding-scale equation that links the amount of money AOL TW spends in B of A’s advertising channels to how much B of A spends advertising with AOL TW properties.
“The more they spend with us, the more we spend with them,” a Turner official said. “We’re trying to break down some of the traditional barriers of what a media-buying company would be and what a media-selling company would be,” Mr. Roselli said.
The WB is not part of the deal “because the age profile [of the network] is a little bit younger than [B of A] wanted to go,” Mr. Goodman said.
The deal, which was brokered by Bozell Communications, B of A’s agency of record, will start in October.
While significant in its own right, the $100 million deal is dwarfed by the $300 million cross-platform deal Procter & Gamble recently concluded with Viacom. That deal’s elements ranged across networks as disparate as CBS and MTV.