ABC Integration

WPP'S GROUPM is co-producing "October Road" with Touchstone Television for ABC. The show focuses on a famous novelist who returns to his hometown.

Group M will get an undisclosed amount of ad time--not necessarily in this show--but across other ABC prime-time programs. For ABC, the deal takes a certain amount of first-quarter scatter prime-time inventory out of sale, which helps to tighten any potential soft marketplace. For GroupM, it helps secure first-quarter inventory for its clients at a pre-arranged price level.

Two years ago, MindShare Worldwide, a GroupM agency, fully financed and produced the six-episode series "The Days" for ABC. ABC and MindShare each owned half of the inventory in the series. MindShare clients, such as Sears Roebuck and Unilever, owned the ad inventory in the summer series.

But unlike that deal, neither MindShare or other GroupM clients have as yet made a deal for inventory or for an equity stake in the show, says Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer of GroupM's media agency, Mediaedge:cia.
"This deal is independent of our clients," says Scanzoni. "It makes it less risky for them." In addition, as opposed to other advertiser or agency deals for TV shows, the deal in no way was tied to any branded entertainment or product-placement deal components.

"We are not telling ABC that they have to put certain products in the show," says Scanzoni, who adds that there are plenty of other places where clients can secure product placement and branded-entertainment deals.
While the GroupM's approach--versus MindShare's deal with "The Days"--limits risks, clients can choose to come on board for the show later. "If we are successful, then we can make our asset available to them," Scanzoni says.


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