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The art of turning hits into brands 6/17/2005 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Ron Scalera, executive VP/creative director, CBS Marketing Group

The shows CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and The Amazing Race, both from Jerry Bruckheimer, would probably be hits even without Ron Scalera's deft touch, but his innovative promotional campaigns have been so out of the ordinary that they caught the eye and admiration of contemporaries.

He is no stranger to Brand Builders Awards: At Promax&BDA this week, Scalera will pick up his second in three years.

Scalera, the executive VP and creative director for the CBS Marketing Group, credits the shows for his success: “CSI is everything a promotion person could ask for.” And Amazing Race? “There's no other show like it in the world,” he says. “I still can't believe how they produce that.”

This year, Scalera focused on two CSI events in particular: the season premiere and the riveting Quentin Tarantino-directed season finale.

In May, Tarantino directed a two-hour season episode in which one cast member, George Eads, was alive. Scalera homed in on that “buried-alive” imagery. Nearly 40 million viewers tuned in.

Scalera's marketing efforts are also helping build Emmy-winning reality show The Amazing Race into a mega-hit. Scalera used a song by The Killers, called “Change Your Mind,” as a promotional anthem because, he reasons, “if you think a reality show can't move you, this is going to change your mind.” He loves the show, he says, because of its raw emotion: “There are tears, hugs, pumped fists. That's what this show is really about.”

Says George Schweitzer, president of the CBS Marketing Group, “Ron is a brilliant, creative guy who is able to take a vision—his or someone else's—and see it through to finished product.”

Scalera maintains a “dare-me” attitude toward promotion that keeps him excited. “There's always something new to try,” he says. “And, unlike everybody else at a network, we are the only department that can think of something this morning that will be seen by 30 million people that night.”

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