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Back to Soap Opera Basics ~ Consumer Products

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Just call it the power of television

Why There Were Soaps in the First Place – To Sell Things!

Passions Danica Stewart (Jessica)
as mark representative.
Photo NBC

As many of you well know, the soap opera genre was the brain child of marketing mavens at Procter & Gamble way back before television even existed.  This week marks the 52 anniversary of Guiding Light on television, but did you know that it began as a fifteen minute radio broadcast in 1937?  At 67 years young, Guiding Light is the longest-running soap opera.

So, why did Procter & Gamble decide to produce continuing drama in the first place? To sell consumer products to a captive audience, of course.  The very first P&G soap opera was titled “Oxydol’s Own, Ma Perkins,” and its purpose was to sell soap products.

Fast foward to the year 2004.  Procter & Gamble may have started the trend and the genre, but ABC and NBC daytime are right there with them. 

Last week in Top of the Week I told you about ABC Daytime’s new strategic partnership with Wal-Mart.  Beginning this fall, Wal-Mart will market a new fragrance called “Enchantment” after Erica Kane’s (Susan Lucci) company on All My Children. 

At right:  All My Children's Susan Lucci (Erica) and Alicia Minshew (Kendall) at Enchantment's offices. Photo ABC

The product launch will coincide with the All My Children storyline where characters on the soap will likewise develop and launch a new fragrance called Enchantment. Then, ABC will promote the fragrance in store, when stars from AMC appear nationwide at Wal-Mart to meet and greet fans and demonstrate the new fragrance. Can’t you picture it?  Rebecca Budig (Greenlee) or Alicia Minshew (Kendall) standing in the middle of the center isle at Wal-Mart spritzing everyone who walks by!

Last year NBC Daytime joined with Avon when Passions wrote into their storyline the new Avon product line called mark.  The character of Jessica (Danica Stewart) became a mark representative.  Well, this year, NBC's Passions and mark continue their strategic partnership, announcing new plans for 2004.

Here’s the Inside the Bubble Scoop on Passions and mark

At left: Passions Danica Stewart (Jessica) with Dana Sparks (Grace) and James Hyde (Sam) and mark products. Photo NBC

NBC Daytime and mark, a new beauty business from Avon Products, Inc (NYSE: AVP), announced a strategic marketing alliance between the network's hit daytime drama Passions and Avon's newest beauty business markTM. The alliance includes product/brand message integration, cross-promotion and sweepstakes plans for 2004.

Once again, Passions character Jessica Bennett (played by Danica Stewart) will help facilitate the product/brand message integration as she continues her role as a mark Representative (this element of the storyline has been in place since August 2003).

Beginning in June 2004, mark is being featured in 13 episodes of Passions. The airing of these episodes will coincide with NBC Daytime's presence in the "meet mark." magalog. mark is the makeup you can buy and sell, consisting of over 300 diverse, first-to-market and exclusive products including cosmetics, skin care, fragrance, accessories, jewelry and handbags. The meet mark magalog is distributed to 7 million young women each month, making it the largest print vehicles for young women in the U.S. today. In 2004, mark expects to generate net sales of $35 million.

The cover of the July issue of the mark magalog will feature NBC Daytime stars Danica Stewart (Passions’ Jessica Bennett) and Alison Sweeney (Days of our Lives' Sami Brady). In the September, October and November issues of the magalog, readers will find columns written in character "by Jessica Bennett."

"NBC's alliance with the 'mark.' line underscores the unique position of 'Passions' as daytime television's pre-eminent program vehicle to reach style-conscious, contemporary young women," said Sheraton Kalouria, Senior Vice President, Daytime Programs, NBC Entertainment.

"Our partnership with 'Passions' allows the opportunity to break through the communication on network TV with our on-trend products and incredible earnings opportunity," said Deborah I. Fine, President of Avon Future, the division responsible for the launch of mark. "It's more than just buying thirty second spots, it's about putting the mark brand on the brains of young women."

The consumer sweepstakes, new to the marketing partnership this year, will reward one grand prize winner with a trip for two to the set of "Passions" in Los Angeles, lunch with the stars, a tour of NBC Studios in Burbank and a supply of "mark.' products. Fans will be directed in magalog #8 (August 24th - September 20th) to tune-in to Passions the week of August 30 and look for the product integration. Viewers will then log onto www.nbc.com/passions the weeks of August 30 and September 6 to enter the sweepstakes. A link to the sweepstakes will also live on the "mark." website, www.meetmark.com.

But NBC is not stopping there...



Days of our Lives and Passions are also about to soap up in partnership with Caress Products and Us Magazine in an upcoming marketing synergy.

Days of Our Lives and Passions will team with Caress body wash and beauty bar products and Us Weekly magazine for an inventive cross-promotional campaign that will feature a high-impact "advertorial" series in Us Weekly from May-August.

The advertorials -- titled "My Sensual Sanctuary" -- will run in conjunction with Caress' national brand promotion that is encouraging women to make their bathrooms a more sensual environment by transforming them into sensual sanctuaries. The first advertorial, in the May 24 issue of Us Weekly, contained a teaser ad in the form of a "Do Not Disturb" door hanger. As part of the mutual promotion, the door hanger was visible in a scene in Days of Our Lives in early June.

The June 14 issue of Us Weekly contained the second advertorial, which featured three NBC daytime actresses (McKenzie Westmore and Brook Kerr of Passions and Melissa Reeves of Days of Our Lives). The 4-page advertorial showcased the actresses (in character) relaxing, unwinding or energizing in their own sensual sanctuaries accented with Caress products. In-character quotes about sensuality were incorporated into the layout. The June advertorial also announced the "Caress Bathroom Makeover" sweepstakes (sponsored by Caress on www.caressskin.com)

The August 2 advertorial will be set up as a two-page spread, featuring the on-screen male partners to the trio of featured actresses with "in-character" quotes revealing the secrets to their partners' sensuality.

"Daytime offers the unique opportunity for viewers to spend 5 days a week with their favorite characters, 52 weeks a year. The partnership with Caress and Us Weekly furthers the relationship between character and viewer with readers gaining further insight into these characters' lives," said Sheraton Kalouria, Senior Vice President, Daytime Programs, NBC Entertainment.

"This is a perfect example of our continued efforts to take branded entertainment to a new level, combining in-show product placement with co-branded marketing campaigns in support of the shows." said John Miller, Chief Marketing Officer of The NBC Agency, developers of the campaign in partnership with Caress and Us Weekly.

Back to Basics

At right:  ATWT's Peyton List (Lucy) in a scene that airs the week of June 28, 2004

Interestingly, Caress is a Unilever Brand.  Unilever is a competitor of Procter & Gamble. And speaking of the company that began it all – this week’s As the World Turns features Lucy (Peyton List) and Grayson McCouch (Dusty) sleeping peacefully on Procter & Gamble’s own Bounty Paper Towels – the Quicker Picker Upper.  What better product promo can there be?

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