Sony to Solo on ‘Nip’ Preem

Aug 22, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Sony Pictures will be the sole sponsor of the third-season premiere of FX’s hit series “Nip/Tuck.”

The special 90-minute episode, slated to debut Sept. 20, will contain only 11 minutes of commercial time, all of it going for trailers of upcoming Sony theatrical releases.

The multimillion-dollar deal reflects FX’s strategy of accommo advertisers who want the launch of their products to stand out. The network airs full-length movie trailers before some if its Thursday night movies and has sold packages it called “launch nights” to marketers that want to sponsor an entire night of programming. During those nights, the sponsor gets billboards, vignettes and thank-you messages in addition to its spots.

Because FX’s most popular shows, such as “Nip/Tuck,” feature edgy and controversial content, some more conservative marketers seldom advertise on the News Corp.-owned network, which means FX is more accommodating to clients in such big-spending categories as motion pictures and automobiles.

Sony Pictures declined to comment on its promotional plans, and FX executives declined to comment on the financial details of the deal, which was one of the first struck during this summer’s upfront ad market.

However, it is likely that Sony paid more than $1.8 million for its premiere package.

FX sells ads in “Nip/Tuck” for $100,000. For that price an advertiser’s spot appears each of the five times per week an episode appears on the channel.

With nine minutes of commercial time in most of its shows, a normal episode of “Nip/Tuck” would generate $1.8 million. Sony invested more than that, sources estimated.

Sony is using the “Nip/Tuck” episode to help build interest in its fall movie slate, which includes “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “The Legend of Zorro” with Antonio Banderas, Jon Favreau’s “Zathura,” a remake of “Fun With Dick and Jane” with Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni and the film adaptation of the musical “Rent.”

FX has had marketers support commercial-free season premieres of its shows before, but in talks with Sony about this season’s first episode of “Nip/Tuck, “It really became apparent they wanted to run some creative,” said Barry Schwartz, senior VP of integrated sales and marketing for the Fox Cable Entertainment Networks. “They wanted to do something out of the ordinary to promote these films.”

Mr. Schwartz, whose group is responsible for coming up with integration ideas for prospective sponsors, said the trailers “not only inform viewers about movies that are coming up, they entertain the audience. It’s intrusive, but in a way the viewer would find appealing.”

Running trailers could also turn out to be a good thing for FX, since research has shown that viewers are less likely to change channels or fast-forward through trailers than most things that appear during commercial breaks.

FX is creating a custom open and close for the season premiere of “Nip/Tuck” to ensure viewers know Sony was the sponsor of the reduced-commercial presentation.

Three weeks before the show runs, promos for “Nip/Tuck” will be tagged with the Sony holiday movie promotion. The network will run at least 40 of the tagged promos per week. Tagged tune-in ads will also start running on radio about 24 hours before the show is telecast.

In addition, FX will create a “holiday lounge” area on the popular “Nip/Tuck” page of the network’s Web site. In the lounge, viewers will be able to get more information about the Sony movies and stream the trailers if they missed one or want to see it again.

Sony is also buying time during the show in several local markets.