Biggest TV Stars Of '05 (So Far): Hispanic, Cable, And Everlast Boxing Equipment

U.S. advertising grew almost 6 percent in the first half of 2005 from the usual suspects--cable TV, Spanish-language TV, and of course, the Internet, according to estimates released Tuesday by Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The not-so-usual suspects in Nielsen's release came from its first time data release of top TV shows for product placement--NBC's middling Mark Burnett reality boxing show, "The Contender," now exiled to ESPN for its second season, claimed top honors. In second place was the number one show in the land, Fox's "American Idol." CBS' "Amazing Race"--not its better-rated "Survivor"--came in third.

Loading up "The Contender" with lots of product placement material seemed like an easy decision, considering the success Burnett had with "The Apprentice" and "Survivor."

In retrospect, having the most product placement may not actually be an honor. TV advertisers typically run from cluttered prime-time commercial pods on the networks. Running to a show that seemingly takes a lot of well-known name consumer products isn't necessarily an attraction--especially if the show is doing less-than-stellar ratings.



Nielsen's product placement release had another unusual suspect on its list--Everlast boxing equipment. Little Everlast came in second to Coca-Cola in the most product placement occurrences! Coke on "American Idol" has been a natural--as every single shot of Paula, Simon, and Randy shows us three Coke logo-ed cups (Does that count three times for one shot?) Everlast was naturally attached and visible to boxing show "The Contender," and that means gloves, speed bags, and mats emblazoned with a logo. The company has been a fixture in boxing since 1910.

The difference is that Everlast has done virtually zero TV advertising before "Contender," while Coca-Cola has spent a few bucks on TV commercials from time to time. Perhaps this uncovers the true meaning--and value--of branded entertainment, giving the little guy more wood to build a taller soap box--or in Everlast's case, more snap on its jab.

Smart Mark Burnett knew that any well-promoted products on his shows would get some sort of lift. TV shows with lot of product placement availabilities will always give us small-named companies we have never heard of--especially from TV commercials. That is why Burnett bought part of the Everlast company, as well as that of small audio equipment maker SLS Loudspeakers, speakers that are visible in "Rock Star: INXS."

Even if the shows didn't become hits, the small companies, at least for the near term, would see a lift in business. All this is good for viewers--taking unfamiliar TV advertising suspects and putting them into familiar TV places.

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