NBC joins Vegas, AFL in promo push
By Allison Romano -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/14/2004 7:00:00 PM
NBC is arranging a Vegas marriage. To hype the Jan. 4 DVD release of its casino drama Las Vegas and to promote the season kickoff of the all-pro alternative Arena Football League (AFL), the network has crafted a cross-marketing assault, worth an estimated $10 million in promotional value, across the NBC Universal empire.
The sophomore drama is a solid performer on NBC, ranking as a top-25 broadcast show, but the DVD release could increase buzz and squeeze extra profits: TV on DVD is a $2.3 billion business projected to grow to $3.9 billion in sales by 2008, according to Merrill Lynch.
It's also a cluttered market. In the first half of 2004, Merrill Lynch reports that more than 500 TV shows were released on DVD. That's why imaginative marketing could help Las Vegas stand out. Indeed, the aggressive campaign underscores the current economics of TV.
The multimedia campaign is loaded with star power: Las Vegasleads Josh Duhamel, James Lesure and Nikki Cox, along with NFL great John Elway and rocker Jon Bon Jovi. All are cast in a two-minute mini-movie Rumble in Montecito, a spoof in which AFL team owners Elway and Bon Jovi and their Denver and Philadelphia teams play pick-up football inside the fictional Montecito casino.
Regal Cinemas plans to show Rumble in Montecito in theaters in December, and Comcast Cable will stream it online. The mini-movie, which ends with Bon Jovi working as a lounge singer and Elway as a waiter—both are paying off damage to the casino—will be included in the Las Vegas DVD. A shorter version will air on NBC and off-channel spots.
The campaign is part of a promise NBC made when it acquired Vivendi Universal Entertainment last May: move products across the company. There have been a few early efforts, like NBC shows Today and Access Hollywood plugging Universal Studios movies and tie-ins for the Athens Olympics at Universal theme parks.
Now the stakes are higher.
The Las Vegas effort is an “uber-project,” as NBC insiders dub efforts involving multiple divisions.
“Special projects like this take more deal-making and leverage of assets,” says Barbara Blangiardi, the NBC Agency's vice president of marketing and special projects, who spearheads the campaign.
The Las Vegas project is marshalling the resources of Universal Home Video, NBC Entertainment, NBC Universal Cable affiliate marketing, the NBC Agency and the AFL. The timing is also hooked to promote Las Vegas' midseason original episodes, which start in January.
The idea for Rumble in Montecito started when AFL Commissioner David Baker was looking for ways to build up his league. The AFL's championship will take place in Las Vegas permanently, so Baker floated some cross-promotional ideas to NBC, which airs the games. The NBC Agency pulled in Las Vegas and the other divisions. The result, says Blangiardi, is a broad corporate coalition.
“The DVD division is helping sports,” she says. “Sports is paying back cable.”
The Las Vegas stars got something out of it, too. The talent was awed by Elway and Bon Jovi, and one actor, Blangiardi reports, showed up at the shoot with a football for the Denver Broncos legend to autograph.
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