Top Chef earned $37.75 million in advertising last year, and another $16.1 million this year, and thus we know that more product sponsorships and sponsor-focused challenges are on their way.
Advertising Age reports that product placement works: Top Chef 4 “posted high brand recall for sponsors such as Toyota (67% vs. the cable average of 49%), Glad (77% vs. the 73% cable average) and Food & Wine (77% vs. the 70% cable average).”
This season, we’ll get integrations from Toyota, Clorox, Food & Wine magazine, Campbell’s Soup, Quaker, and Diet Dr Pepper, which is “the exclusive carbonated beverage partner” for Top Chef 5. Seriously.
Dr. Pepper exec Lauren Radliffe even said this bunch of unadulterated nonsense: “It was so apparent we’d be able to really communicate our brand positioning through the show and achieve a great audience fit in terms of viewers. We likened the brand to food in our advertising — our tagline is ‘Nothing diet about it’ — so we wanted to relate the brand to food in such a natural, organic place,” she said.
So how does the show decide how to integrate sponsors with challenges? NBC Universal cable’s VP of branded entertainment, Kevin McAuliffe, told the magazine, “At the very early stages, we have gut-check conversations where we say, ‘Here’s the kind of things we’d like to creatively follow or look to bring into the show that fit its sensibility. Once we go through that, then we determine the kinds of ideas we’re going to pursue based on the specific direction we get from programming and producers.”
Clorox’s Ellen Liu says, “We do a lot of collective brainstorming with the Bravo team, because you want to be unique, be relevant and still be interesting. It’s not easy coming up with the challenge idea.”
Thankfully, the magazine reports that “[t]he show’s producers, Magical Elves, and the Bravo programming executives have final say on each of the show’s creative executions.”
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