CBS to Place Interactive Video Player in Entertainment Weekly Print Advertising Spread

--Player Is Based on Americhip's Video In Print (VIP) Technology

CBS on Wednesday unveiled plans to embed a "paper-thin" interactive video player in a print ad spread that will run in the fall TV preview issue of Entertainment Weekly (dated September 18th, and appears in stands September 11th). The so-called VIP ("video-in-print") player--which will be available in home-delivered copies of the magazine in the New York and Los Angeles markets--will be the centerpiece of "Monday to the Max," a co-branded ad campaign between CBS and PepsiCo, that will launch the network's Monday night comedy line-up and new dramas, while simultaneously promoting the soft drink company's new Pepsi Max product (which it bills as "the first diet cola for men"). The advertising partnership between the companies was orchestrated by their mutual media agency, Omnicom's OMD.

According to CBS, the player, developed and manufactured by Americhip and based on the latter's patented VIP technology (note: the player is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery that provides up to 70 minutes of play), will feature five channels of CBS and Pepsi Max content, totaling 40 minutes of content. Readers/viewers will be able to select between the channels by pressing buttons that will also be incorporated into the print spread. When Entertainment Weekly readers flip to the "Monday to the Max" spread, CBS says, they will be greeted by a specially produced short video featuring "The Big Bang Theory's" Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki in character in the roles that they play on that show: they will explain how to use the VIP player, while chatting about Entertainment Weekly and, the network says, "exchanging some characteristically cutting remarks with each other." After the introduction, readers will be able to choose from the player's five video menu options:

  • A video montage of Barney Stinson, a character from the show, "How I Met Your Mother," discussing "The Bro Code," a code of conduct for "bros."
  • Separate video compilations of humorous moments from "Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory," entitled respectively "2 1/2 Minutes of Two and a Half Men" and "Talk Nerdy to Me." According to CBS, the latter compilation will feature a musical homage to "The Big Bang Theory's" male characters' "endearingly geeky jargon and pastimes."
  • "I'm Good," a humorous spot promoting Pepsi Max.
  • A preview of the new CBS comedy, "Accidentally on Purpose."
  • A preview of the new CBS fall dramas, "NCIS: LA," "The Good Wife," and "Three Rivers."

According to CBS, the Americhip VIP player produces high-quality video and audio, and is sufficiently thin and durable to withstand the rigors of magazine binding and postal delivery. "We're bubbling with excitement over CBS's partnership with Pepsi Max and our first-time ever use of video in a print ad," George Schweitzer, president of the CBS Marketing Group, said in a prepared statement. "Pepsi Max is a great brand and a perfect fit for our Monday night comedies and new dramas. Since we're always thirsty for the newest marketing innovation, we're thrilled to be unveiling the inaugural use of an interactive video-in-print technology in Entertainment Weekly's popular fall TV preview issue. The best way to sample our terrific new programs is to see previews--and it's never been accomplished in a print ad...until now. EW is the ideal venue for this ground-breaking video-in-print ad, which is entertaining in its own right and is particularly well suited for their media-engaged readership." Added Frank Cooper, chief marketing officer for portfolio brands at Pepsi-Cola North America Beverages: "This is an extraordinary way to refresh how we interact with consumers. We're constantly seeking new ways to reach and connect with our core audience, and, as part of this groundbreaking alliance, we're utilizing technology that's both surprising and engaging. Most importantly, we're adding value in the right context through a combination of great content and innovative partners. Pepsi Max's 'I'm Good' spot plays well with the upbeat, irreverent voice that defines CBS's Monday night comedy lineup--putting it directly into the hands of a key demographic target--readers of Entertainment Weekly's Fall TV preview issue."

Other elements of the "Monday to the Max" campaign, in addition to the VIP player, include network spots (some of which will include a "Thirsty for Comedy?!" tag); a Los Angeles-based premiere party event featuring celebrities from CBS's Monday comedies as well as from the network's other primetime series; a CBS.com Pepsi Max-branded microsite featuring interviews, video from the premiere party, a "Monday to the Max" comedy trivia game, and a "social viewing room" for CBS's primetime series; and screenings of "Accidentally on Purpose" at select college campuses.

The VIP player is the latest in a series of innovative and unusual marketing schemes conceived by CBS marketing chief, George Schweitzer, and his team. Their other efforts have included ads on eggs and on meat wrappers, flash drives in print ads, and rooftop ads for airplane passengers (note: for more on the work of Schweitzer and his team, see his November, 2006 interview with [itvt]).

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