Next Survivor Draws 4 Blue Chip Sponsors
By Steve McClellan -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/21/2003 7:00:00 PM
Procter & Gamble will use the next edition of CBS's Survivor to mount one of the most massive advertising efforts in its history, touting 20 brands in commercials and product placements.
But Home Depot and Johnson & Johnson also have big plans in sponsoring the eighth edition of Survivor. The fourth sponsor, General Motors, has been a fan since the series debuted in 2000.
The next Survivor, dubbed All Stars and featuring memorable and successful contestants from past competitions, bows on Feb. 1 immediately after CBS's telecast of the Super Bowl and is expected to reap monster Nielsens.
P&G Communications Director Tami Jones says the company's list includes such brands as Herbal Essence, Crest, Dawn, Bounty, Pantene, Clairol Color, Olay, Cover Girl, Tide, Secret, Old Spice, Pepto-Bismol, Charmin, Zest, Scope, Pringles and Downy.
P&G also will run free-standing newspaper inserts promoting its Survivor tie-in with a contest in which five winners will be guaranteed interviews to become contestants in Survivor 10, set to air a year from now.
Meanwhile both the program's ratings and the number of sponsors are on the rise. The reality show, once just a novelty that launched copycats, has become one of TV's most profitable franchises.
When the program debuted in 2000, CBS signed nine sponsors at the relative bargain rate of about $4.5 million per package. The show was an instant hit, and the network jacked the Survivor 2 sponsorship packages up to a reported $12 million to $14 million.
CBS wouldn't talk about pricing this time, but the value of the sponsorship packages has reportedly remained in that ball park. The price of a 30-second spot in the show, though, has soared from about $125,000 in season one to $425,000 today, making it the highest-priced regularly scheduled program airing this season, according to BROADCASTING & CABLE's annual spot-price survey (Sept. 15 issue).
And that's upfront pricing. The network expects to get a premium above that for the remaining scatter time left in the show.
Meanwhile, the show remains one of the highest-rated shows on TV and has been a key factor (along with CSI) in CBS's ability to close in on NBC Thursday nights. Survivor 7 wrapped Dec. 14, having averaged a 12.2 household rating/19 share with 21.3 million viewers tuning in each week. That was up 8% from Survivor 6.
CBS confirmed the identity of the four Survivor:All Stars sponsors last week.
"To have four blue-chip clients supporting the All Star edition is really exciting," says Chris Simon, executive vice president, prime time sales, CBS. All the sponsors will have a presence on CBS.com, and additional media, such as cable, are being tied in to some of the deals as well, although the network didn't provide details.
Sponsorships in the show had dwindled to as few as two as CBS added more installments of the series (GM and Radio Shack sponsored Survivor 7). Simon says the number of sponsors in any particular edition has more to do with buyer needs and strategy than with CBS's selling strategy or the show's ratings.
The All Star premiere is likely to draw a huge audience. The last time CBS had the Super Bowl, in 2001, the lead-out was Survivor 2, which attracted 45 million viewers, about twice as many as every other Super Bowl lead-out in the past five years.
For its part, GM is planning to give away a couple of vehicles in the All Star series, likely one to the ultimate survivor and one in a reward challenge. In past Survivor adventures, GM has staged a contest in which viewers have had a chance to win the showcased vehicle by guessing the outcasts and ultimate survivor.
The recently concluded seventh installment featured the GMC Envoy sports utility vehicle, but a spokeswoman said the company had not finalized which model would be offered during the All Stars edition.
Johnson & Johnson still wants to keep the wraps on a major consumer promotion tied to its sponsorship. "It's a great opportunity to showcase brands through integrated marketing activities," a spokesman said last week.
Home Depot is planning a major product-placement component to one of the "challenges" in the program but wasn't ready to divulge details at press time.
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