Creative Sponsor Solutions Abound at 20th TelevisionSyndicator finds new ways to integrate brands into shows 3/28/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
As the upfront approaches, Judy Kenny, executive VP/ad sales at 20th Television, is pleased when clients and media
buyers praise the syndicator for selling more than repeats.
For years, while cable networks pioneered integrated advertising
approaches and multi-platform packages, syndicators fell behind.
“Over the past year and a half, we’ve been focusing on being better
creative partners to our advertisers,” Kenny says. “What that means
is trying to figure out a way to marry up the content of our shows
with advertisers’ brand messaging.”
One new way 20th proposes to do that is by offering to put a
sponsor’s name on the studio where Wendy Williams produces her
talk show. Whatever company buys it would get a shout-out at the
beginning of each episode, signage around the set and integrations
with Williams during the show.
The naming rights “would be annual
to start,” Kenny says. “If someone were
interested in a multiyear deal, we could
certainly talk about it. Wouldn’t you?”
Integrating advertisers into original
content is easier than with off-net shows,
yet this past season, 20th found a way
to do that as well. It’s called an exclusive
integrated pod: The sponsor takes over
one of the one-minute national pods in a
show such as How I Met Your Mother. The
first 30 seconds features clips from the
show related to the sponsor’s product;
the second 30 is a commercial.
To take it one step further, 20th uses
virtual imaging technology from Seam-
BI to digitally insert the sponsor’s product
into the scene. Next year, the EIPs will be enhanced because SeamBI
has worked out a way to take moving cars in scenes from shows and
change the make and model. “It’s really cutting-edge, very, very cool,”
says Kenny, who will be selling the enhancement in this year’s upfront.
“It’s not something we’re pushing on people, but I’d say most people
are interested in figuring out how to make their money work more for
them by surrounding the commercials which they paid so much for.”
Still in the works is a multi-platform approach for clients that want
ad packages with online media. “That’s going to be the area we’re going
to be focusing on more and more moving forward,” Kenny says.
Kenny adds that 20th has already begun a pre-upfront tour of 300
sales meetings over the next two months. The presentation’s theme is
“The Content You Want, the Company You Keep,” and one of the things
it emphasizes is that while 20th is best known for shows that attract
young men, it actually commands the biggest share of 18-to-49 demo
gross ratings points of any syndicator, with 25%. CBS,
often thought of as the leader because of The Oprah
Winfrey Show, is second with 24%, according to Kenny.
Kenny says the meetings are important because it’s
how she gets feedback from clients about what works
and what doesn’t. It’s also important not to assume busy
buyers know what 20th has to sell from year to year.
Among off-net shows, the syndicator’s big winners are
Family Guy and How I Met Your Mother. In first run, in
addition to Wendy Williams, 20th has court shows Judge
Alex and Divorce Court. “Because there was a real dearth
in networks’ daytime, some advertisers found their way into the court
shows, so it’s been a wonderful year for our court shows,” Kenny says.
This year, 20th is also bringing off-net shows to the upfront. It’s Always
Sunny in Philadelphia and Futurama should enhance the syndicator’s
standing with young viewers, as should the new original series On the
Spot (a less mean-spirited take on the Tonight Show’s “Jaywalking” bit);
Jeremy Kyle, featuring the British talk show host; and the weekly Point
Dume, starring Brian Bosworth and produced by Baywatch’s Greg Bonan.
The future also looks bright, with Glee and Modern Family a few
years away from syndication. “When people say, ‘So what’s the future
of syndication,’ all you have to do is mention those two shows and they
go, oh,” Kenny says.