Thursday, February 23, 2006


Silvercup West sets sights on building a 'studio city'
NEW YORK -- After more than three years of discussion and design work, plans for Silvercup Studios' new film and TV production facility, Silvercup West, officially were unveiled Tuesday.

The $1.5 billion complex to be built on the Long Island waterfront will boast eight new soundstages, along with production and studio space. The site, spanning more than 2 million square feet, will include residential and commercial buildings, catering hall, waterfront esplanade and a cultural center likely to be a museum. Silvercup CEO Alan Suna and its co-owner, president Stuart Match Suna, began working on the project more than three years ago.

ABC Deal Delivers Product Placements--Into Viewers' Hands

by Wayne Friedman, Tuesday, Feb 21, 2006 7:00 AM EST

WHILE NETWORKS FIGHT TO INTEGRATE product placements into shows, one company looks to help networks take the product placement out of shows--and into viewers' hands.

Three-year-old San Francisco-based Delivery Agent has struck a deal with ABC Entertainment that will enable viewers to buy products that appear in series such as "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy."

Viewers can buy Gabrielle's Yoga Pants, Bree's Martha Stewart Signature Couch, or Edie's Rouge Guitar online on ABC's new Delivery Agent already sells product for ABC's daytime shows, "All My Children," "One Life to Live," "The View," and "General Hospital."

"This isn't product placement--this is done after the fact," said Bruce Gersh, senior vice president of business development for ABC Entertainment. "Delivery Agent creates a close relationship with prop masters to figure out what products to sell. It's a significant business over the long term." EDITOR'S NOTE: I GUESS I'M KINDA SURPRISED THIS HAS TAKEN UNTIL NOW TO HAPPEN. I MEAN, IT'S THE LOGICAL EXTENSION OF ALL THINGS ADVERTISING, HUH?

After working the prop masters of TV shows and film, Mike Fitzsimmons, CEO of Delivery Agent, says his merchandising team then arranges a retail relationship with product manufacturers for sale off of media companies' Web sites. The media companies and Delivery Agent share in the revenue from the retail sales.

"This is the after-market for product integration," says Fitzsimmons.

The company started by selling products off of Sony Pictures Entertainment's theatrical movie, "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," as well as for shows on Showtime. Other studios in their stable include Miramax Films, Lions Gate Entertainment, and SoapNet. Delivery Agent also has a deal with NBC and Bravo that was made a year and half ago. Overall, the company has 75 TV and film properties.

For a typical one-hour show--for example, "Desperate Housewives," says Fitzsimmons--there can be as many as 170 products placed per episode. Over the course of a season, this would amount to some 3,750 product placements--including some products that are repeated. For "Desperate Housewives," Delivery Agent has picked some 300 products--mostly apparel from the four lead women characters. EDITOR'S NOTE: HOPEFULLY THE 'APPAREL' COMES IN SIZES LARGER THAN THE TYPICAL SIZE 0 WORN BY THE "DESPERATE HWIVES" CAST?

Despite the current wave of branded entertainment activity, he says, "the reality is, 99 percent of the products are not paid to be placed." Fitzsimmons says his company doesn't really work with typical branded entertainment or product placement agencies to spin out sales of actual products.

"We don't care how it got into the show," he says. "We are agnostic."

Brandtique Of The Week: The Games Hasbro Plays

by David Goetzl, Tuesday, Feb 21, 2006 7:00 AM EST

Talk about a marketer rolling the dice on product placement. Toy maker Hasbro, which owns Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers board games, seemingly can't get enough. It's sliding Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit into comedies, Operation and Rubik's Cube into reality shows--and, who knows, maybe a deal's in the works for Chutes and Ladders on "Desperate Housewives."

Last summer, the Griffin family on the animated Fox comedy "Family Guy" duked it out with Twister and Trivial Pursuit. A few weeks later, the modern kids living together on MTV's reality "The 70s House" played Operation. Then there's Scrabble, which recently challenged the comedic characters on WB's "Twins" and CBS's "Out of Practice." And on WB's "Beauty and the Geek," one of the geeks last month showed off his agility with the Rubik's Cube.

All marketers are worried about TiVo. But is potential commercial zapping reason enough to go full force into branded integration?

More likely, Hasbro is looking for some cost-efficient prime-time exposure. The brand manager for Yahtzee probably doesn't have a huge national TV budget. And the good news for Hasbro is that it doesn't take much of a script or shoot alteration to pop a board game into a scene, so finding product placement opportunities is easier than if it were, say, Suzuki looking to plug a Quadrunner. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO INSTEAD OF SITTING AT HOME PLAYING BOARD GAMES, WE WILL SIT AND WATCH TV CHARACTERS...SITTING AT HOME PLAYING BOARD GAMES? WOW. COUCH-POTATO'ING TO THE SECOND DEGREE!

Surely, Hasbro also feels it can create interest in its games by weaving them into storylines, giving consumers an idea of how they themselves can use a board game to depart from the ordinary. Why watch another "Law & Order" re-run on a Saturday night when you can play Risk?

Take the Feb. 6 episode of CBS comedy "How I Met Your Mother." Twenty-somethings Barney (played by the former "Doogie Howser," Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) are hanging in a bar after a game of laser tag (it's not clear if they used Hasbro's LazerTag equipment).

Robin says the ersatz combat makes her yearn for that classic Naval combat game of childhood: Battleship (evaluated and ranked via research firm iTVX as one of the five most effective product placements last week). Besides, she says, she's never lost a game.

Lo and behold, neither has Barney. The likely reason? Both say they cheat. And Robin asks Barney back to her place for "a cheaters' grudge match." At first, it's unclear why Barney would want to leave a bar to play a game popular among the 5-to-8 demo.

Then we find out. Back at Robin's, Barney thinks he's in for a different kind of matchmaking, and strips down. Robin comes out of her room--holding the box with the Electronic Battleship Advanced Mission Game (apparently, the game has been upgraded since 1983)--and is incensed. She thinks they're just hanging out as friends.

Huh, says Barney, "You invited me up to your apartment to play Battleship. Is that not an internationally recognized term for sex?"

No, she says.


The product integration--where Battleship has a role in the plot, makes its way into the dialogue, and is seen in action as Barney and Robin later begin playing--is a hit on several levels. First, when was the last time Battleship crossed your mind? A third-grade slumber party? It's highly unlikely you'd pull a Robin and invite someone back to your place for a game, but Battleship is back on your front-burner, at least for a few minutes.

There's also the potential impact the placement could have on a teenage or collegiate crowd. Watching twenty-somethings on a show that models itself after "Friends" might give them the idea that a night of Battleship with their buddies is good for a few laughs. After all, retro is in.

Third, Hasbro takes a flyer that "You sunk my Battleship" can find its way into the vernacular, perhaps as a good-natured retort for a pick-up line that fails.

Marketing today is a long war, but Hasbro may have won a battle with its latest move. EDITOR'S NOTE: UMM...YAY?


Getting the book and the film

In pairing novels or other works with DVD versions, publishers try crossing old technology with new -- with varying success.

By Patrick T. Reardon
Chicago Tribune

For more than a year, Chamberlain Bros., an imprint of the Penguin Group publishing giant, has been experimenting with a new hybrid product: paperback editions of classic books packaged with DVD versions of the story.

The company is betting that customers will like having the chance to read "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" by Victor Hugo and then watch Lon Chaney in the title role. Or to work their way through "Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy and then watch the 1948 film starring Vivien Leigh.

"It's a really cool idea," says publisher Megan Newman. EDITOR'S NOTE: YES, ACTUALLY, IT IS.

But so far, the Chamberlain Bros. book-DVD packages, priced from $15 to $19, aren't moving. "We really did have high hopes for them," Newman says, "but sales have been lukewarm, in all honesty."

In a case study of the allures and mysteries of marrying new and old technology, Chamberlain Bros. is now trying to figure out if a cool idea can make good business sense.

Across the industry, many publishers are conducting similar experiments. And some have had great success.

Rugged Land, for example, hit big with "Payton" and "Favre," book-DVD packages on NFL greats Walter Payton and Brett Favre, both of which have sold more than 110,000 copies and made the New York Times bestseller list. Also reaching that list was "War Stories" by Oliver North (Regnery), which included a DVD of North's Fox television series of the same name. EDITOR'S NOTE: WOW. SO FOOTBALL FANS AND FOX NEWS VIEWERS CAN READ? WHO KNEW!!???

The puzzle of book-DVD packages is one that Newman inherited in October when she was named Chamberlain Bros. publisher. (Newman also heads the Penguin imprints of Avery and Viking Studio.)

In the coming months, Chamberlain Bros. will be publishing book-DVD combinations of Boccaccio's "Decameron," W. Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage," Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet," and a collection of four plays by Eugene O'Neill.

The DVDs, provided in white envelopes attached inside the back covers, offer a look at some legendary actors — Bette Davis in the 1934 film of the Maugham novel, Paul Robeson in the 1933 movie of O'Neill's "The Emperor Jones" and highly respected ensemble casts in the two Shakespeare plays produced in 1978 and 1980 by the BBC.

Yet for all the great acting, most of the movies are more than half a century old and filmed in black and white. That's because the publisher can afford to include only films for which the rights are free or relatively inexpensive. Modern versions, such as the "Romeo and Juliet" featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, are out of the question.

"To attract younger customers, we're going to have to tweak our packaging to make it look up-to-date and essential," Newman says. "There's nothing now that screams: 'Wow!' " EDITOR'S NOTE: NOT THAT WE REALLY WANT OUR BOOKS TO SCREAM AT US.....

The book covers are a bit dowdy. But, more important, the future of these book-DVD editions rests with determining their market — and, surprisingly, that may be college campuses.

Academics used to heap disdain on movie versions of great literature, but no longer. Many literature professors today routinely bring films into the classroom to complement the reading of the classics. EDITOR'S NOTE: IF YOU CAN'T FIGHT EM....? (MORE PROOF OF THE COMING END TIMES.....?)

At Goucher College in Maryland, for example, Jeff Myers recently had his freshmen read Philip K. Dick's science-fiction short story "Minority Report" and watch Steven Spielberg's film version, and then write a paper comparing the two.

"Then I had them take another short story by Dick and make changes of their own to it and, in groups of four, do a radio drama," Myers says. "The results were quite impressive."

James Butler, an English professor at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, focuses on the novel "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley and the many cinematic versions that have followed as a way of looking at cultural conventions from era to era. "I teach the novel first," he says. "Once I do that, what happens with [the story] in popular culture is quite interesting to the students."

Some, however, complain that the image of an actor in a film can override the mental picture they developed of the character while reading the book. "That's quite frequent," Butler says.

At the University of Denver, English professor Eleanor J. McNees says, "If the publisher were to approach me [about using book-DVD combos], I'd be game. Anything that can pull them into the literature is worth a try." And, far from being a drawback, McNees considers the older films a plus and believes her classes would too. "It is kind of interesting for students to see a black-and-white version," she says. "I'm almost more intrigued by that idea than seeing some of the more recent ones which we have in our [university] collection."

Not everyone in publishing, however, is sold on bundling books and DVDs.

Naperville, Ill.-based Sourcebooks Inc. made a name for itself a few years ago by offering lavish, photo-filled, coffee-table books with audio CDs included. The publishing hybrids, on subjects ranging from major news events to famous sporting moments, sold in the hundreds of thousands and spent weeks on the New York Times bestseller lists. But the publishing house hasn't taken what might be considered the inevitable next step: packaging books and DVDs together.

"We've looked at a lot of DVD projects," says Todd Stocke, vice president and editorial director, "but it's extremely difficult to make the content work and make the costs work. There are a lot of [publishers] who have been unsuccessful with DVDs."

Stocke argues that books go together with CDs in a much more direct way than they do with movies. "There's a theater of the mind that people experience when they're reading a book, and there's a similar theater of the mind when people are listening to something. Video is a different experience for the brain." EDITOR'S NOTE: AS IN, NOT SO MUCH BRAIN USAGE AT ALL?


XM, Samsung, Pioneer Open the Door to Interactive Transactions

February 21, 2006

By Abbey Klaassen

NEW YORK ( -- Push the button, buy the product direct from the ad. That’s always been the holy grail for TV advertising and now it’s coming -- to radio.

In two weeks, XM Satellite Radio will begin shipping to retailers a pair of new XM-enabled portable MP3 players. In addition to recording and time-shifting capabilities, the devices -- the Helix from Samsung and Inno from Pioneer -- will feature a button users can push to “bookmark” songs they like when they hear them on the radio. Later, when users dock the player to an Internet-connected port, the marked songs will be bought and automatically downloaded from Napster, thanks to a relationship XM has with the music service. EDITOR'S NOTE: SOON THEY'LL JUST IMPLANT A CHIP IN OUR BRAINS....A SHOPPING CHIP. (ALTHOUGH DAD THINKS MOM ALREADY HAS ONE OF THESE, I BET).

It’s not a stretch to see the same push-and-purchase function made available for advertisers. While neither XM nor Sirius are anxious to disclose their plans for forthcoming hardware and technology, there are hints that interactivity will be a major component -- and one that benefits both consumers and advertisers.

Our next generation of products coming out in the next two weeks will be an XM-enabled MP3 player with, in the simplest terms, that ‘buy’ button,” D. Scott Karnedy, senior VP-ad sales for XM Satellite Radio, said at a radio panel last week. “The next generation [after that] will be that if you want to hit that button for more information about that product you just heard described.”

Two-way interaction
Interactivity -- the ability to buy Teri Hatcher’s sweater by pushing the red button on a remote control -- has been a TV buzzword since the mid-1990s. But only recently have cable and satellite TV operators and technology companies like TiVo become viable grounds for experimenting with ad campaigns that ask consumers to opt-in for more information or, potentially, allow them to purchase a product directly from the TV.

Whether it’s ultimately of use to consumers depends on ease of application,” said Matt Feinberg, senior VP-radio, at media-buying agency Zenith. EDITOR'S NOTE: SHOPPING FOR SIMPLETONS? DEBT FOR DUMMIES? PURCHASING FOR POOPIEHEADS? He believes the terrestrial-radio companies could successfully use the digital technology they’ve started rolling out in a similar manner. One of the features of digital radio is a two-way interaction, which, like in digital cable, means consumers can request more information.

XM’s hardware is at least one generation away and the only comment Sirius will make is “for the future, we are working on products with multiple features and functions.” But that doesn’t stop marketers from pondering the possibilities.

Time-shifting ads in radio
Typically you don’t think of radio as being the best direct-response medium,” said Jim O’Rourke, group media director at Dallas-based Richards Group, an agency that uses lots of radio -- it created the award-winning “Motel 6” ads -- and has experimented with TiVo’s interactive-ad functions. Whether he’d use it depends on how it would be priced, “but there is an appeal, even to just being able to time-shift an ad in radio,” he said. “It gives radio an element that TV could say it has, and print has and the Internet has.”

Linking traditional media with an online component is a kissing cousin of interactivity -- and one that is already entirely viable. San Francisco-based Delivery Agent, for example, has created an e-commerce business selling the products featured in TV shows.EDITOR'S NOTE: SEE ARTICLE EARLIER IN THIS POST.

Weinstein Co., which produces Bravo’s “Project Runway,” contracted with Delivery Agent to sell the clothing designed on the reality competition show. A recent challenge asked fashion designers to create an outfit for My Scene Barbie; the site later sold out of the 3,300 dolls wearing the winning designer’s creation. Delivery Agent also has inked deals with NBC and ABC.


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