'Big Shot' touts brands


NEW YORK -- In the latest episode of Madison Road's online talent search series "Big Shot Live," the winner of last week's comedy competition auditioned for talent scout Mike August on a Southwest Airlines flight to Las Vegas in front of passengers, then was told that he would open for Carrot Top at the Luxor.

It was the latest brand integration for Southwest, which also is featured in the opening sequence of the show and buys ads on the site. Following the model of TV integrations, "Big Shot Live" also has partnered with DSW, Ford and Classmates.com for in-show integrations and ad buys since it launched last month. Several other major advertisers are on board for future episodes, though names were not disclosed.

"We realized early on that we had this incredible ability, not unlike television, to create some integrated moments that could be really high-impact for the advertisers," said Madison Road managing partner Jak Severson, "because next to the player window are the panel advertisements that can be tied to that integration, and the integrations are fairly natural."

Severson said Southwest Airlines got to send the message that the airline is "very creative and fun" and said for the show it was "a great moment because I think the audience sort of stands back and says, 'Wow, can that really happen on an airplane.' "

The Ford Escape is featured in every episode of "Big Shot" as the agents' car. DSW is branded on the back of the envelope with each day's winner that is read by one or two people picked out by the show's host on the streets of Hollywood. There is also a multi-episode story line planned for DSW revolving around character Natasha's love for shoes.

Classmates.com is featured in 15-second promos featuring the show's host that urge contestants to find their high school classmates via the site and urge them to vote for the contestant. Each day, the contestant with the most votes in that day's category -- modeling, singing, dancing, acting, TV host, comedy or sports tricks -- gets the chance to go to Los Angeles and audition for a role in a Hollywood production.

Classmates.com also will run a sweepstakes that will be integrated into the show offering viewers the chance to go to Hollywood and be weaved into an episode.

Severson declined to say how much advertisers are paying for the integrations and ad buys but said prices are "on par" on a CPM basis with mid-tier cable.

He said "Big Shot Live" gets slightly more than 500,000 page views a day. The show is co-produced by Madison Road and James Bruce Prods.