'Big Shot' takes aim at wide target

Online reality series eyes local as well as national platforms for ad plan

For its new online talent competition and Web series "Big Shot," Madison Road Entertainment has arranged for the production of more than 35 commercials starring winners of the contest, with the possibility of even more featuring local contestants that will appear on 200 local stations nationwide.

"Big Shot" will feature contestants vying for a crown in seven categories — dancing, singing, modeling, acting, comedy, TV host and sports — with the winner determined by online voting. The show premieres Jan. 7.

With "Big Shot" contestants using their social networks and any other means they can think of to rally friends and family to vote for them for the chance to make it to Hollywood, Madison Road managing partner Jak Severson believes the commercials will have a built-in audience of fans wanting to see how their favorite contestant performs. In the end, the spots will help promote the advertisers' brands and the show, which is being co-produced with Guy Oseary's Maverick Television and James Bruce Prods., he said.

"Individual contestants will be stars in a new breed of specialized commercials targeted at an isolated fan base," Severson said.

Severson expects that the show, through its deal with CBS Television Distribution, will receive even heavier promotion via commercials from local advertisers featuring their hometown "Big Shot" contestants on stations that carry "Entertainment Tonight," a promotional partner for the show. Through Madison Road's pact with CBS Television Distribution — which took a 50% ownership stake in "Big Shot" — the 200 "ET"-affiliated stations will promote "Big Shot" on their air for a minimum of 60 seconds per day in addition to their Web sites.

"The local stations have been given the right to sell a marketing plan to their local advertisers to promote the local talent that is participating in 'Big Shot,' " Severson said. "That means a car dealer in St. Louis can get mileage and value out of the local contestants by putting them in a local car-dealer commercial. … We're empowering local stations to be able to truly make a lot of money by bringing in local advertisers to a national concept."

John Nogawski, president and COO of CBS Television Distribution, said that commercials featuring local contestants from "Big Shot" are just one of the methods under consideration for local stations to use the show as a promotional vehicle for advertisers. Others include allowing advertisers to sponsor 10- to 30-second on-air promo spots for "Big Shot" or an "ET"-"Big Shot" trivia campaign based on a regularly scheduled promotional segment on "ET Weekend" featuring stories about how celebrities got their first big shot in Hollywood.

"It comes down to how aggressive these stations want to get and how big they want to make this," Nogawski said. "There are different ways they can monetize 'Big Shot' and how successful they can make this contest in their local town."