Romance May Move Up Ad Sked

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Romance Classics is so pleased with its first sponsoredpromotion, due from June through August, that general manager Martin von Ruden felt thatits move toward a full commercial load might come sooner than planned.

Romance's business plan calls for the fledglingAmerican Movie Classics spinoff network to go fully commercial in time for the 1999upfront marketplace. However, based on strong advertiser interest in "The BigToss," a sweepstakes promotion tie-in with Bride's magazine, von Rudensaid last week, "It'll probably be sooner, rather than later."

The Toss refers to the tossing of a bridal bouquet in 12major markets. Von Ruden said executives expect at least 500 people at each tour stop.

Despite reaching only 13 million households, thenetwork's Toss promotion has lured 25 advertisers, each contributing to a"wedding dowry." Although the network announced the dowry's value at$25,000-plus, it would appear to be worth far more, since the prizes include his-and-herFord Escort ZX2s, an all-expenses-paid honeymoon, china, linens, jewelry and housewares.

Among the advertisers tying the promo knot, von Ruden said,are: After Six, Almay, American Airlines, Carnival Lingerie, Hoover, Mikasa, RoyalDoulton, Sheraton Maui, Wamsutta and Westin Maui.

The advertisers will get rotating spots and billboards onRomance from June 4 through August, plus time later this year on Wedding Spectacular,a daylong marathon of movies, bridal tips and highlights from the Toss tour, von Rudensaid. The clients won't run tie-in print ads in Bride's, although he saidthe magazine's June/July issue will carry a page plugging the Toss tour calendar.

Consumers also can enter the sweepstakes via the Web sitesof Romance and AMC, a spokeswoman said.

Von Ruden, who would not estimate total ad sales from the25 companies, said there has already been "particularly strong" interest amongautomotive accounts about buying time on the channel.

Romance has yet to begin developing subsequentsponsored promotions, he added. 

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