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Cross-Marketing Bonanza

NBC joins Vegas, AFL in promo push 11/14/2004 07:00:00 PM Eastern

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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