‘Runway’ Sashays Into Spots

Jun 26, 2006  •  Post A Comment

“Project Runway” is so hot that Bravo can even get advertisers to sponsor promotions for the show.

In an unusual arrangement, promos featuring personalities from the program riding in cars from General Motors’ Saturn division will run in episodes of “Runway,” which starts its third season on July 12.

In addition to promos on TV and in print urging people to tune in, Bravo is increasing its new-media marketing to build audiences. The network, ranked 35th in viewers among cable channels, will put original content on MySpace.com and Yahoo, and is offering carry-on bags on its own Web site, BravoTV.com.

“We’re spending lots more money promoting these shows online, because that’s where people are,” said Jason Klarman, senior VP of marketing at Bravo. “We still have to be in that traditional tune-in business, we have to be in the big entertainment publications, we’ve got to have a big presence on cable and satellite and, of course, the NBC cross-channel support is invaluable.”

Bravo’s deal with Saturn reflects a new step in the integration of products and programming, with a sponsor seeking to capitalize on the popularity of the show while taking part in efforts to lure viewers. The audience for “Runway,” a reality show that features aspiring fashion designers, grew last season by 59 percent to 1.7 million viewers on average compared with the previous year.

The Saturn promo campaign, called “Joy Ride,” features personalities from the show visiting their favorite places in New York and talking about their “Runway” experiences while riding in Saturn Sky, Aura and Vue models. Fashion mentor Tim Gunn and past contestants Kara Janxs, Daniel Vosovic and Austin Scarlett appear in the spots, which will launch in the series’ second episode on July 19.

“It’s another way for them to leverage their association with the show,” said Jason Klarman, senior VP of marketing for Bravo. “It’s a way for them to connect the product with the `Runway’ stars.”

Saturn is also a regular sponsor of the series and a Saturn Roadster will be awarded to the winner of the competition.

Bravo’s promotion on MySpace.com is twice as big as it was last year, reflecting the growth of the social networking site.

For seven days beginning July 5, MySpace will host an exclusive first-look at the contestants, with the original casting tapes for the final 15 designers. MySpace will also have a “Runway” sweepstakes that features a trip to the season finale at New York’s Fashion Week as a top prize.

Mr. Klarman said he expects the promotion to expose the show to hundreds of millions of Web surfers. The network will also be streaming a casting special exclusively on Yahoo.

The digital promotions for the show also include exclusive exit interviews on BravoTV.com with departing contestants. The network also is bringing back its online “Fashion Face-Off” game, which last year drew 150,000 fans to register to vote on who should be voted off the show.

Bravo also plans to offer a mash-up site that lets viewers use clips to create their own episodes of the show and share them with other fans.