Fox Affiliate, Guitar God Hitched in Vegas Wedding

KVVU thinks outside the (music) box in pact with Gibson

KVVU Las Vegas, one of the boldest stations in the country
when it comes to branded integration, has another unique
product placement partnership in the works. The station is
preparing to debut an on-set music studio bearing the name of a major
music outfit. The “Gibson Showroom at FOX5 Studios” reflects an innovative
pact between the Meredith station and the guitar giant Gibson,
unveiled as the CES show kicks
off in town this week.

In addition to naming-rights
cash, KVVU gets a state-of-theart
studio to host the numerous
musical acts that schlep through
Sin City. “Of all the things we
did well, such as movies and
television [star] interviews, what
we didn’t do well was live music,”
says Darrin McDonald, vice
president and general manager
at KVVU. “We didn’t have a facility
for performers to come in
and play.”

KVVU does now. The 600
square-foot studio, bearing the
Gibson logo prominently, sits in
a balcony overlooking the set belonging
to KVVU’s lifestyle show,
More. (KVVU airs More from 9-10
a.m. and More Access 6-7 p.m.)

While the merits of branded
integration can be debated ad
nauseam, KVVU is an indisputable
pioneer in the category. In
2008, the station made national headlines when it featured McDonald’s
iced coffee cups on the set of its morning program; KVVU’s execs said
the cups were there during the lighter news/lifestyle part of the show,
not the hard stuff prior to 7 a.m. The cups’ appearance, during a yearlong
contract with McDonald’s, set off a debate on ethics. But KVVU
did not stop there; after moving More out of the station’s news division,
it sold naming rights to the More green room, along with a wet bar and
slot machine on the set.

KVVU’s McDonald says the Gibson studio will pop up primarily on
the two More shows, but will get airtime during the news when appropriate,
such as when a big-name act is performing at a local charity
event. “If we have the right people and the right reason, we absolutely
will [have the performances in newscasts],” he says. McDonald adds
that KVVU is also kicking around a possible musical performance series.

Live music is essential to many Fox affiliates’ local programming. The
network of course offers pop cultural touchstones such as The X Factor,
American Idol and Glee, and many Fox affiliates’ mammoth morning
programs feature both local and touring performers. WJBK Detroit and
KTVI St. Louis are a few Fox affiliates where live music is essential to
the stations’ local identity.

Gibson has showrooms around the world, including Nashville,
Austin, New York and London,
where artists pop in to try out
new gear. Las Vegas, where an
unending array of performers
play at the various rock rooms
and casino theaters every night,
was a logical choice for the instrument
vendor. “They did not
have a showroom in Vegas,” says
Terri Peck, director of marketing
at KVVU. “We said, why not
build it in our studio?”

A Gibson representative says
the company is not only intent
on getting its product onto television,
but also having its artists
perform in top-quality TV venues.
The deal with KVVU could
be the first of many Gibson-TV
station arrangements around the
country, adds the rep.

Neither Gibson nor KVVU
would divulge financial details
of the partnership, only that
it is a joint deal with a year-toyear
contract. KVVU’s management
says the cost of building out such a studio space runs $75,000-
$100,000. “It’s a number we feel comfortable enough about to build
this out,” Peck says of Gibson’s investment.

Construction crews busted their collective butts to get KVVU’s performance
space up and running in time for CES, the giant annual
electronics trade show Jan. 10-13 (the 2011 CES attracted 140,000
people and 2,700 exhibitors to Vegas). A lineup of big-name talent is
scheduled to perform out of the KVVU-Gibson studio during the show,
though the principals were not sharing names at presstime. “CES is real
important because there will be a lot of eyeballs here at this time,” says
Peck. “Gibson has a very large role at CES.”

KVVU will slowly unveil the studio, with one or two performances
on air per week, while gradually ramping up the musical acts—and
Gibson plugs. “We’ll have it as many times as we have [available] talent,”
says McDonald. “Potentially, it could be five days a week.”

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