food

ConAgra Sponsors Yahoo TV Clips Program

Marie Callander

ConAgra Foods is expanding its branded entertainment marketing with a year-long sponsorship of a new Yahoo online program "What's So Funny?" Multiple brands, including Marie Callender's, Healthy Choice and Orville Redenbacher's, will be integrated into the program's content over the course of the sponsorship.

One key objective is reaching consumers looking for online entertainment during their lunch-hour breaks. Monday through Friday, the program's three-minute episodes show the funniest moments from the previous night's television shows, with commentary and personal favorite picks offered by hosts Mike Bachmann and Shira Lazar. Viewer votes on the daily clips help determine the funniest moments of the week, which are then shown during a weekend recap episode.

Each episode includes a 30- to 60-second branded segment for a ConAgra product that "incorporates the product's key messaging and aligns strategically with existing brand advertising," in ConAgra's words.

For example, the initial episodes are featuring an "Ingredients for Good Comedy" segment that combines elements of what goes into making a show funny and visuals conveying the fresh ingredients that go into Marie Callender's Home-Style Creations. (The product's tagline: "Home-Style Taste Made Fresh in Minutes.")

There are also several other branded elements. A banner topping the program's home page (http://customsites.yahoo.com/conagra) positions the show as "Marie Callendar's Home-Style Creations presents ...What's So Funny?," with the product's logo included in the header.

In addition, a brief commercial for the featured product ends each episode, and the page features two standing ads. The larger ad, prominently positioned adjacent to the video clips window, currently features a rollover for a downloadable video that demonstrates how to prepare the Home-Style Creations meals and highlights the six varieties available. A second, smaller ad alerts viewers to the face that the product can be found in the pasta or soup aisle of their grocery store and links to a ConAgra site also featuring preparation and varieties information, plus a store locator tool.

ConAgra has created and/or sponsored online branded entertainment in the past, including its "Working Lunch" concept for the launch of Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers and its "Mom & Pop Culture" sponsorship for Orville Redenbacher's (both initiatives with MSN).

However, the new Yahoo partnership is the first that ConAgra has developed "with an eye toward multiple brand exposure and experiences slotted in throughout a longer time period," as opposed to brand-by-brand initiatives, ConAgra manager of media services Jonathan Shen tells Marketing Daily. "There is definitely a pretty deep branded experience on the site. Our goal is to help develop and be a part of new branded entertainment that delivers a strong, engaging consumer experience, but also something that provides a broad canvas for brand messaging in a variety of formats."

ConAgra applied learning from previous partnerships in developing the Yahoo sponsorship, Shen says. "It's a growing process, but we are focused on learning and optimizing as we progress," he adds.

ConAgra has begun quantitative assessment of the program, which launched Nov. 9, but recognizes that the series will "need time to build a loyal audience," Shen says.

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