ABC Takes Dell, Intel to School

Jan 17, 2005  •  Post A Comment

ABC is nearing a multimillion-dollar product integration and media deal with software maker Intel and computer company Dell for the upcoming reality series “The Scholar,” executives close to the companies said.

In “The Scholar,” which debuts in April, 10 highly intelligent, mostly poor, inner-city high school students are pitted in an academic competition. Throughout the show, each student’s dramatic background story will be revealed, similar to the way families’ hardships are featured on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The winner gets a full college scholarship.

Dell and Intel will provide students with laptops that will be seen extensively during the six-episode series. Intel and Dell will make a joint media buy on the ABC show.

The show is produced by Bunim-Murray Productions, which produces Fox’s “A Simple Life” and MTV’s “The Real World.”

Currently, Intel participates with other technology companies in airing co-branded TV commercials. Typically that means at the end of a commercial, a video or audio tag will say “Intel Inside” or more recently “powered by Intel Centrino Mobile Technology.” Intel provides co-op advertising money for these branding efforts. With the ABC-“Scholar” deal Intel will pony up more advertising money, one media executive said.

Intel’s agency is MPG USA. The agency’s new branded entertainment division, MPG Entertainment, put together the deal. It marks the first product integration/media deal for the group that was formed last September.

An ABC spokeswoman would not comment. A MPG spokesman would not comment and referred phone calls to Intel. An Intel spokeswoman said, “It is not our policy to comment on speculation or rumors.” Bunim-Murray executives did not return phone calls by press time. A Dell spokeswoman said, “We haven’t made any commitment at this point.”

Ironically, this is perhaps the last major media work MPG will do for Intel. Intel is in the process of a media agency review and MPG USA has dropped out of the running and will resign the account later this year.

Last September MPG USA, through its sibling agency Arnold Worldwide, did a wide-reaching cross-promotional integrated marketing deal with Viacom. Some of those marketing elements included customized 15-second vignettes and product placement on CBS’s “As the World Turns;” a sponsorship of cooking and parenting segments on CBS’s “The Early Show”; vignettes on Nick at Nite; and a sponsorship of a new home makeover show on Country Music TV.