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Viacom, Saturn in cross-platform ‘Survivor’ deal

Feb 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Viacom Plus, Viacom’s cross-platform sales and marketing arm, has reached a new multimillion-dollar cross-platform deal to promote General Motors’ Saturn Ion automobiles in and around “Survivor: The Amazon,” set to debut Feb. 13 on CBS.
The deal includes “Survivor” and Ion-related spots on MTV, VH1, TNN and CMT as well as on Infinity Broadcasting, Viacom’s radio division, and Westwood One, the radio network and program syndicator Infinity manages.
The deal, which expands on an earlier overall deal making Ion the “official” car of “Survivor: The Amazon,” is essentially a four-week ad blitz that includes a “Survivor: The Amazon” DVD, available only in Saturn showrooms, and a 30-minute cable television special from “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett that will air on MTV and VH1.
The deal was hammered out in “record time” and concluded so quickly there was no time to include an outdoor component, though that might be added later, according to Lisa McCarthy, executive VP, Viacom Plus, which is able to weave together deals out of the full range of Viacom promotional and advertising assets, from on-air to outdoor and from big screen to small.
Ms. McCarthy declined to put a more specific dollar amount on the Ion deal’s bottom line. But she did say, “It was definitely worth the trip.”
These are the deal’s elements:
“Survivor: Men Vs. Women, Rumble In The Jungle” is a 30-minute special that is being telecast by both MTV and VH1, two Viacom cable networks that reach the same young adults that are Ion’s likeliest purchasers. The 30-minute special looks at the “battle of the sexes,” which is the new tribal gimmick on the latest edition of the reality game. Saturn will be the special’s exclusive auto sponsor.
“Inside the Tribe,” also from CBS and Mr. Burnett, is a DVD that profiles the new “Survivor” contestants and includes exclusive footage from their auditions (as well as commercials for the Ion). The DVD is available gratis from Saturn retailers and is already for sale on eBay-for $27, Ms. McCarthy noted incredulously. “The buzz that’s getting generated is incredible,” she said.
The DVD comes with a code that viewers can use to enter a sweepstakes at the CBS.com Web site. Top prizes include a new Ion and a trip to the finale of “Survivor: The Amazon.”
The Ion ad blitz will include a 30-second TV spot, produced by MTV, touting “Inside the Tribe” that will air on MTV, VH1, TNN and CMT. The DVD will get 60-second radio spots on Infinity and Westwood One stations.
CBS has created supporting point-of-purchase materials for Saturn retail showrooms, including window posters and car-topper displays, that promote the DVD. Lastly, Saturn will promote “Inside the Tribe” on CBS.com, VH1.com and MTV.com.
General Motors, Saturn’s parent company, is traditionally one of Viacom’s two largest upfront advertising clients, and GM has been the exclusive auto sponsor of “Survivor” since the series first launched. An Ion quad coupe product placement is expected in at least one of the 13 upcoming “Survivor: The Amazon” episodes.
GM Mediaworks, the automaker’s in-house agency, and GM Planworks, the automaker’s media planning operation managed by the Starcom MediaVest Group, were the two agencies involved in the deal.
Past Viacom Plus deals have involved Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Home Depot, Fidelity Investments and Snapple, among others.
Ion’s pursuit of the 18- to 34-year-old audience has resulted in such other reality show sponsorships and associations as the “MTV Real World/Road Rules Battle of the Sexes” show, which featured Ion, and “Cram,” the new series on The Game Show Network, in which an Ion sedan is featured.