Yahoo! Reprises 'Apprentice' Role

by , Sep 21, 2005, 6:00 AM
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In a super-sized show of multi-channel cross-marketing product placement, Yahoo! and reality TV producer Mark Burnett have partnered once again to promote NBC's prime-time shows "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart" and the fourth season of "The Apprentice," with Donald Trump. All parties involved--Yahoo!, Burnett, NBC, Stewart, Trump, and their advertisers--plan on promoting each other's products, brands, and content throughout the fall season.

Yahoo! has already launched a dedicated Web site for each show. There, visitors will find a blending of Yahoo! services and show content including Yahoo! Alerts, which fans of the show can use to stay tuned to show developments via e-mail, instant messenger, or mobile device. Also, past show contestants will be blogging about this season's shows with Yahoo! 360; contestant audition-tapes are available via Yahoo! Video; and an ad on both sites promoting Mark Burnett's inspirational work, "Jump In!," links to Yahoo! Shopping. And, if that isn't enough, each site features several news stories related to either Stewart or Trump and their shows via Yahoo! News.

Working with Burnett and NBC, Yahoo!'s goal was to highlight as many of its products as was humanly possible, according to Jim Moloshok, senior vice president of entertainment and content acquisition at Yahoo! "We asked ourselves how far we could stretch this vertically across our properties," Moloshok said.

Each week, both Stewart's site and Trump's site will present 40 to 45 minutes worth of video, most of which was not shown on NBC. Yahoo!'s dedicated sites will also include new contestant interviews each week that are not available to television viewers. Each clip that a viewer cares to watch is preceded by a 30-second streaming pre-roll ad from the sponsors, including Clorox, Microsoft, and Bally Total Fitness gym.

NBC will also promote Yahoo!'s sites each week on TV with clear and concise sound-bites, Moloshok said. "We know from experience to give viewers the easiest instructions possible in order to maximize cross-promotions," he said.

For example, immediately following the first episode of "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," in which Stewart's line of children's books published by Random House will be positioned, consumers will be told to "Go to Yahoo! and search for 'Apprentice' books," Moloshok explained. Viewers who do as they're told will then be led to Yahoo! Shopping. Explaining to television viewers that they have to go to Yahoo! Shopping would be too complicated for them, Moloshok added.

Additional product-placements will intersperse virtual 360 Tours--not to be confused with Yahoo!'s blogging tool Yahoo! 360--featured on Trump's and Stewart's sites. Each piece of furniture--much of which is Martha Stewart's signature line--contained in each room within each of the two massive apartments where show contestants are housed has been catalogued so viewers know where to shop.

There are also strategically placed products within the rooms, such as Apple's Dual 2.5 G5 Desktop. The Apple displays the logo for the computer security company Symantec, which is also a major sponsor.

Banner and pre-roll ads will also promote Symantec, which is consistent with advertising packages that most of the sponsors signed up for, said Moloshok.

"The packages we sold include pre-roll and banner placement and the option for product placement," he said.

Seven of the 13 episodes feature products from sponsors of the show, Moloshok added.

Moloshok said that Yahoo! could go beyond creating a "contextual experience" by providing "an actionable experience, where viewers can go directly to a product site and buy."

Other examples of cross-promotion include an ad with a link to NBC's fall series "My Name is Earl."

Frank Zazza, CEO of iTVX, which has arranged product placement deals for Unilever, Kraft, and Verizon, said if a company were to invest in product placement, then this is the way to do it. "Not everyone has the millions of dollars this is going to cost, but, regardless of the money, the key is the combination of placement with other forms of advertising," Zazza said. "These guys know what they're doing."

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