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'American Idol' adding more off-air promotional partners


By Christopher Rocchio, 01/08/2007 

After five seasons, American Idol mania about to get bigger than ever, with the show's Fremantle Media and 19 Entertainment production companies working on new deals that will result in American Idol candy bars, American Idol ice cream, and at least four more sponsors joining the show as new off-air promotional partners.

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According to an Advertising Age article published Monday, the deals are all part of the companies' efforts to "wring even more revenue out of what already may be the most lucrative multimedia property of all time."

Despite already having a reportedly "conservative" franchise value of $2.5 billion, Fremantle Media and 19 Entertainment have announced that Nestle and Dreyer's will be the first of six new American Idol off-air promotional partners, all of which will be paying undisclosed fees for the right to launch marketing campaigns tied to the series, according to The Hollywood Reporter

First out of the chute will be two deals with two food companies -- Nestle and Dreyer's.  Nestle will become the official candy of American Idol, with more than 70 million candy bars featuring the franchise's branding set to hit store shelves.  The candy bars will also offer viewers with a sweet tooth the opportunity to win a trip for two to Hollywood with tickets to both the 2007 Idol performance finale and results show.  Dreyer's will become Idol's official ice cream sponsor, a relationship that will result in the ice cream company launching several new flavors including "Drumstick Diva," "Rock 'n' Rolo" and "Hollywood Cheesecake."  Four additional new official partners are expected to be announced in the next two to three months.

"The brand has matured to a level where we can bring on national sponsors that are not integrated into the show itself but associate with the show in marketing and promotions during the year off-air," executive vice president for Fremantle Licensing North America Keith Hindle told The Reporter.  "The issue for us isn't getting more eyeballs.  Earlier in the show's life cycle, it was about that. But now it's much more about fully monetizing the brand."

While Coca-Cola, Ford and Cingular Wireless will remain as the sixth season's key integration partners, Idol's production companies expect that the addition of six off-air promotional partners will help turn the series into a year-round property.

"We now have a record six off-air partners," Mark Brittain, who is responsible for merchandising and brand tie-ins for Idol on behalf of 19 Entertainment, told Hollywood Reporter. "It really does show the power of American Idol. We now have brands queuing up to work with us."

With Idol viewers having cast a record 570 million votes during last year's fifth installment of the series, the show's producing are adding several new ways in which viewers can "interact" with the show's sixth season:

• For the first time, Cingular will make it possible for fans to download specific performances, making clips from the show available on cellphones once viewers in Hawaii have finished watching the latest episode.  Cingular will once again enable its customers to use their wireless phones to text-message their votes each week, participate in hosted chats with voted-off Top 12 finalists, test their knowledge with IDOL trivia and personalize their wireless phones with Idol ringtones. Cingular will also feature video clips of selected bad auditions as well as performances of the Top 12 finalists via Cingular video.

• Ford is planning a contest that will give viewers a chance to appear in its weekly Ford music videos that feature the Top 12 finalists that remain in the running to be crowned the season's winner. Typically, one winning viewer will be featured in each video.

• Coca-Cola will allow viewers to submit questions that Idol host Ryan Seacrest will ask the contestants live on-air through its MyCokeRewards.com website.  In addition, those well-known cups clenched tightly in the judge's hands every episode -- the most widely seen product placement on TV, according to Nielsen Monitor Plus -- could be a design of your creation.  Idol fans will be offered the chance to submit their own designs for the judges' Coca-Cola cups via the show's AmericanIdol.com website and the winning cup will be featured on an episode of the show.




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