Burnett Ups Ante for Placement

Sep 20, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Now that reality show producer Mark Burnett has wowed the advertising community with skyrocketing $1 million-plus product integration deals for NBC’s “The Apprentice,” he’s going for a knockout punch with “The Contender.”

The DreamWorks Television-Mark Burnett Productions show, which focuses on the lives of struggling young boxers in and out of the ring, has signed Toyota, PepsiCo and Home Depot to multimillion-dollar deals, according to executives close to the companies. They said the deals include an even more pricey product placement/integration element than do deals for “The Apprentice.”

Product placement/integration deals for “The Contender” have been agreed to at a hefty $2.5 million for each advertiser, media executives said. As part of the deals, company names and logos will be displayed in each of the corner ring boxing pads. Additionally, each advertiser’s products will have significant presence in one specific episode, according to executives.

Also, as part of the deals, all three companies made a traditional advertising spot buy ranging from $3.5 million to $4 million for the entire 13-week series. At an estimated $250,000 for a 30-second spot, an advertiser would get roughly 15 or 16 spots throughout the entire series.

Mark Burnett Productions still is in the market for one more advertiser that will get visual placement in the fourth corner pad of the ring as well as product component in the story line, according to executives. The company is seeking a mobile phone or a technology advertiser. Additionally, Nike is in discussions about a deal with “The Contender,” executives said (TelevisionWeek, May 31).

Representatives from Mark Burnett Productions, NBC, PepsiCo and Home Depot didn’t return phone calls by press time. A Toyota spokeswoman declined to comment.

Media executives said advertising discussions for “The Contender” are more complicated than for most other TV shows. Mark Burnett Productions owns some of the advertising time-rare for a prime-time network TV producer. Advertisers who want the sexy product integration also are pushed to buy time from NBC-as well as from Mr. Burnett-according to media agency executives.

Retaining advertising time in the highly sought-after show gives Mr. Burnett considerable additional revenue should “The Contender” succeed. In return, NBC pays a lower-than-average prime-time license fee for an hour show, in this case said to be $1.2 million to 1.5 million an episode.

For “The Apprentice,” a number of advertisers and their products- including Mattel, Toys R Us, Levi Strauss & Co., Masterfoods’ Mars brand and Procter & Gamble’s Crest toothpaste-are being included as part of an episode’s story line this season.

One media executive who has been negotiating with Mr. Burnett said that unlike traditional media buying on TV, Mr. Burnett doesn’t offer ratings guarantees for these placement/integration deals.

“The Contender” lost a court battle this summer to stop Fox’s “The Next Great Champ.” DreamWorks and Mr. Burnett contended that Fox stole the idea. So far, “The Next Great Champ” is off to a slow start ratingswise. “The Contender” debuts in November.