SBJ/October 30 - November 5, 2006/This Weeks News

Microsoft signing on to join product 'mall' on FSN's 'Best Damn'

Microsoft bought a sponsorship deal on Fox Sports Net’s “Best Damn Sports Show Period” that does not include traditional 30-second spots.

Instead, Microsoft plans to push its Windows Live products through signs on the set and by having the show’s hosts use the Windows Live applications twice a week. FSN is building a Windows Live lounge that will highlight three Windows Live services: “Messenger,” “Search” and “Local.”

Sources peg the deal at about $800,000, a lower price than most of the show’s sponsorship deals since it does not include 30-second spots. The deal runs for 23 nonconsecutive weeks from Oct. 30 through May.

“This is a way to get your message across in content that the viewers can’t zap or fast forward,” said Adam Holzer, senior vice president of advertising sales for Fox Cable Networks. “There’s always going to be 30-second spots. But this type of deal is going to become more of a tool to deliver a brand message.”

Microsoft was drawn to “BDSSP” because of its young demographics and its ability to naturally integrate the “Windows Live” products into the show’s on-air segments.

“They have a lot of fun with what they are doing,” said Kathy Fiander, group manager of brand integration for Windows Live. “We didn’t want a deadly serious approach to the technology.”

Holzer expects deals of this type to become more popular in the near future. Previously, Carl’s Jr. bought a product placement that did not include 30-second spots.

“We’re being challenged on the media side to create platforms for marketers to be engaged in the show,” he said. “This is a way to show a real-life use of an application.”

Microsoft is the latest advertiser to take advantage of the show’s product placement strategy, which has been a part of the series since its launch in 2001.

“The show was created with everything in mind for advertisers,” Holzer said. “We view the show like it’s a mall, with anchor tenants.”

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