A Media Blitz for New Bills

Sep 29, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The ABC Network has entered into a wide-ranging and unusual $10 million deal with the U.S. Treasury Department to market the new blue, peach and green $20 bill, which will be released to the public Oct. 9.
The bill is the same size as regular paper currency and retains the historical image of Andrew Jackson, but otherwise has a new look that the government fears could confuse consumers. Thus, the agency has embarked on an overall $53 million marketing campaign.
Media executives say Disney-ABC received almost 90 percent of the TV media buy from the campaign. Other marketing efforts will go to public relations and non-TV-related campaigns.
“The ultimate goal is to educate the public,” said Bill Bund, senior VP of integrated sales at ABC Unlimited, which does cross-platform deals for the network. “People might not believe it is real money-[they might think] that it’s funny money.”
What makes the campaign unusual is that ABC will provide both traditional 30-second spot advertising, promotion and exposure more akin to product placement within specific shows, with the campaign spanning broadcast, cable and TV syndication.
For instance, on ABC’s “America Funniest Home Videos,” host Tom Bergeron will pull out a wad of new twenties during the show’s usual closing-when a confetti-like stream of money rains down on him and studio guests.
For Buena Vista Television’s syndicated “Live With Regis and Kelly,” Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa will discuss the new-colored bill at the start of the show.
Meredith Vieira, host of Buena Vista Television’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” will offer during a segment of the show a wad of new $20 bills totaling $1,000 to an audience member who answers a question correctly.
On ESPN, for its college football games an image of a $20 bill will be superimposed on the field at the same time the superimposed 10-yard marker is used during the game. The $20 bill will look as though it is on the field.
Other components include promotional/marketing efforts with ABC Sports, ABC News, ABC Family, A&E Network, The History Channel, ESPN News and ESPN Classic.
“The objective was to go beyond just buying 30[-second commercials],” said Fred Dubin, managing partner and director of national broadcast for the Treasury Department’s agency Mediaedge:cia in New York. “Our challenge was to talk to everybody. We didn’t have a lot to spend-but it is a lot for a two-week period.”
Mr. Dubin wouldn’t discuss price or overall dollar commitment. However, he did say that four other media conglomerates were also invited to pitch for the business-Time Warner, News Corp., NBC and Viacom Plus.
They eventually decided that Time Warner didn’t have a major broadcast network component; News Corp. didn’t have the breadth of television assets required; and NBC was too urban and upscale, Mr. Dubin said. That left Viacom’s Viacom Plus division and ABC. Mr. Dubin, in explaining the decision, only said: “Disney was very responsive.”
In a separate nonpaid media effort, the syndicated show “Wheel of Fortune” has been showcasing the new money. The bill was also shown as part of The WB’s “Play for a Billion’s” Sept. 14 telecast.