GSN Sponsors Get in the Game

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Game Show Network is going all out to sell sponsors on product integration, rather than simple time buys. And the effort seems to be paying off.

The network has sold a batch of second- and third-quarter scatter clients on product-integration deals. And it's made 26 such deals during the upfront, GSN senior vice president of ad sales Michael Sakin said last Thursday.

The scatter accounts include AT&T Corp., Burger King Corp., Discover Card and Spencer Gifts. Those buys entailed inclusion in GSN's synced-to-telecast interactive games on its Web site (gameshownetwork.com), he said.

Consumers can get more chances to win in GSN's ongoing "Connect & Collect Sweepstakes" by playing interactive Whammy: The All-New Press Your Luck, Friend Or Foe
or Russian Roulette
games on the Web site, and correctly answering bonus questions about the sponsors or game-show-related trivia questions that appear during each program, said GSN senior vice president of marketing Dena Kaplan.

That sweepstakes, which began in mid-June and runs through Sept. 8, is sponsored by Alberto-Culver USA's Tresemme, Discover Card and Kraft Foods Inc., with various Sony Corp. consumer-electronics products offered as prizes.

Sakin called that sweepstakes "a perfect example of the added value that we bring to our sponsors."

During the upfront, 26 advertisers signed deals involving product-integration or product placement, Sakin said. Buys included placement on game-show sets in some cases and as featured prizes in others.

Still others will be included during the 2002-03 season, in 30- to 90-second vignettes that include questions that pertain to products and recipes, he said.

Among GSN's biggest upfront buyers, Sears, Roebuck & Co. has been among the most receptive to its ideas, said Sakin.

Other upfront clients included Best Buy Stores Inc., Discover Card, The Walt Disney Co., Kraft, M&M/Mars Inc., Sony's PlayStation and American Suzuki Motor Corp., he said.

M&M/Mars, which this year has given away a year's supply of its candies on Whammy, may place its candies in Cram
this fall. Cram
is a new show in which two teams study for 24 hours — without sleep — in order to answer questions the next day, Sakin said. The concept is that candies are energy food.

And Discover Card is mulling a gift certificate as a possible prize on one or more shows this fall, he added. Suzuki may give away its cars.

CLOTHED BY SEARS

Sears will dress one of GSN's hosts for a year, and this fall the retailer and Clorox Co. will co-sponsor a Thanksgiving "viewers' choice marathon," in which consumers will vote on their favorite game shows. The top dozen will be presented.

Sears also will give away a holiday gift to GSN viewers each night between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Sakin declined to discuss whether such embellished buys are pricier than traditional time buys.

"I don't look at it from a CPM [cost-per-thousand] standpoint," he said. "Everybody is looking to get their message across" in a fragmented environment, and to evade the ad-skipping feature of digital video recorders, said Sakin.

Another way that GSN clients can stand out is by participating in so-called "advergames," or Web site-driven games in which sponsors Kraft, Pharmacia Corp. and Sony PlayStation can insert logos or product information into related questions, he added.

GSN sells weekly sponsorship exclusives on its synced-to-telecast games, as well as monthly exclusives for its advergames, Sakin said.

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