Show subs product placements for spots

Jun 24, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Michael Davies, who broke the mold in producing a prime-time network game show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” is looking to change the rules again when it comes to advertisers and live prime-time network TV.
A new proposed show, “Live From Tomorrow,” from his production company Diplomatic, is a young-skewing live variety/news/ entertainment show that will showcase new products.
The twist: The plan is to run the series commercial free.
Instead of traditional ads, each hour-long episode will work advertisers’ products or services into variety/news segments, both live and taped. It would mark perhaps the first prime-time broadcast network show without commercials but with advertising-related content a primary part in the program.
“We wanted to create a show that would in a contextual way showcase products in a really fun and unique way so that you wouldn’t need 30-second commercials whatsoever,” said Matti Leshem, executive VP of Diplomatic.
Products and services on “Live” won’t be in the background. “We are completely up front about it,” he said. “It’s completely transparent.”
Diplomatic has a first-look deal with The Walt Disney Co.’s ABC for the series, which Mr. Davies plans to have ready for a six-episode run beginning next summer. ABC came first due to Mr. Davies’ association with the network, where he produces “Millionaire.” Mr. Davies was also a longtime executive at the network.
No network has signed on yet, but Mr. Leshem said he has had definite interest from two broadcast networks, along with a number of advertisers he wouldn’t identify. While there will not be network commercials, local station advertising time would still run, because this is required by most network/station affiliation agreements.
“Live From Tomorrow” will also have an Internet hook. For example, a consumer eyeing a hot new car that has yet to hit the market can register online for more information and enter a contest related to the show. The new car will then be discussed on the program and driven live to the winner’s home, where the person talks about why they deserve the new automobile.
Similar “plot lines” are being considered, such as profiling people looking to start businesses or in other situations where viewers may need products and services. Those products will then be linked to the stories. The show and its Internet component will have segments on movies, music, television, sex, style and technology.
Targeting the 18 to 34 demographic is key, Mr. Leshem said, since young adults are trendsetters searching for cool new products.
“Live From Tomorrow” will not work for every advertiser, he said. “There are some things that won’t be organic to the show. I don’t know if a potato chip [company] would be right.” Diplomatic is looking to sell two premiere sponsorships and four other sponsors. “There is going to be no clutter at all.”
“Live From Tomorrow” is planning to structure a “new financial” model where the network, advertisers and other partners would have a stake in the show. If that doesn’t work, Mr. Leshem said, the show could be done as a time buy. In a typical time buy a producer buys program time on a network and then sells all the advertising time.