Advertisers branding on hit reality shows

  • Business
  • Saturday, 28 Nov 2009

REALITY TV has become such a phenomena in recent years and those with great presentation and interesting content that connect easily with viewers are sure winners and are likely to have a strong following.

Besides being a new source of income, it has also created an avenue for advertisers to promote their brands in the show as it provides different kinds of brand exposure throughout the show.

For example, the US reality weight loss programme “The Biggest Loser” has done remarkably well and has set a platform for international as well as local brands to expose themselves in the show when the production rights for the Asian chapter of “The Biggest Loser” was secured by Osys Group Sdn Bhd.

Osys is involved in TV show production, digital, fertiliser, retail and aviation businesses.

Osys Group is a company that has successfully won the highly competitive bids of US$1mil and US$5mil against Macau, Thailand, Singapore and Australia to organise and host two reality TV programmes in Malaysia.

The shows are the boxing “The Contender Asia” Season 2 and “The Biggest Loser Asia” respectively.

“The Contender” is the largest reality TV production in Asia. Season 1 of the series was broadcast in over 40 countries around the world.

The series follows 16 aspiring Muay Thai middleweight fighters from 12 countries as they compete in a series of outdoor challenges and sanctioned matches.

Meanwhile, The Biggest Loser has grown to become a stand alone health and lifestyle brand since its debut in 2004 and it has become a worldwide hit airing in over 90 countries and produced in 25 countries.

It was recognised as a top brand of the year in Advertising Age’s 2008 Marketing 50.

The Biggest Loser Asia is showing in 20 Asian countries by Hallmark Channel. It has participants from the Asian region and it is being recorded in A Famosa Resort in Malacca. The world premier was on Nov 24.

Osys Group managing director Muhammad Shahnaz Azmi, 28, says most brands have marketed their products through traditional advertising that includes print ads, 30 second TV commercials and billboards for the last century.

“The modern paradigm in marketing is more subliminal and is aimed at influencing buying behaviour patterns for the long term and forming habits in the target consumer base.

“This is achieved through a holistic campaign that builds marketing messages in TV, Film and Gaming content along with digital and on ground activation,” he tells StarBizWeek in an interview recently.

He says integrating a brand into a TV series has numerous benefits as compared to a traditional 30 second TV commercial.

“These have been proven for the last 10 years in American TV whereby products are integrated into TV content and have experienced dramatic improvement in sales,” he says.

He gives an example on Wrigley’s chewing gum that partnered with The Biggest Loser in the US.

“As a direct result of the partnership, the company sold an additional 80 million packets of chewing gum,” he says.

According to him, the products integrated into The Apprentice TV series have shown double digit growth in sales that are directly attributed to their partnership with the TV series.

The Biggest Loser is one of the most successful marketing platforms in the US, Europe and Australia with Fortune 500 companies using it to promote their products.

“The reason for its success is that the show is inspirational and changes the lives of millions of people. It is more than weight loss as it is about changing lives of contestants and viewers,” he says.

On the business opportunities in producing a reality TV show, Shahnaz points out that the growing costs of producing content especially in the US and UK is forcing producers to consider lowering cost options to other countries.

“Various countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada have tried to leverage on this upward trend by offering incentives to producers to relocate their projects to their respective countries,” he says.

He urges local companies to realise this golden opportunity to capitalise on the trend and make Malaysia the centre of media in Asia and globally.

“This is our ambition to make Malaysia the centre of media in Asia,” he stresses.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was reported to have said not too long ago that the nation can be a meaningful and substantive contributor through the creation of impactful content.

He said countries can learn more about each other and the world through film and hopefully this will lead to greater understanding and better rapport.

“It is a great way of exchanging knowledge and ideas about creativity, techniques and trends in the increasingly sophisticated craft of film making,” he says.

The importance of TV production has not been missed by the Singapore Government, which in February announced that it was setting aside US$150mil over five years under the Singapore Media Fusion plan.

This is on top of Singapore’s existing National Research Foundation support of US$326mil over five years for interactive digital media research and development.

Shahnaz says Malaysia has the potential to surpass the neighbouring competitors and establish the nation as a desired destination for international film and TV producers.

“Malaysia has the most picturesque locations in the region, sound infrastructure and an immensely resourceful talent pool which can be leveraged on to establish the Centre of Media Excellence,” he says.

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