'Idol' promo partners are lovin' it

McDonald's, Pringles, Samsung in off-air deal mix

Simon Cowell is not always the friendliest guy around, but that's not stopping "American Idol" from teaming with McDonald's for a Happy Meal promotion.

"Idol" also has lined up off-air promotions with Pringles and Samsung, along with previously announced promotional partners Nestle and Dreyer's ice cream.

It is the first season that "Idol," known for its prominent on-air integrations and sponsorships, has launched a major off-air promotional program with advertisers.

A spokeswoman for McDonald's confirmed that the "Idol" promotion involves Happy Meals but declined to provide details. She said it will involve the usual Happy Meal media mix, which most often involves TV spots. McDonald's is close to finalizing the deal with "Idol" co-producer and licenser FremantleMedia and "Idol" creator 19 Entertainment, she said.

For Pringles' promotion with "Idol," the brand's first long-term partnership with an entertainment property in its 37-year history, the Procter & Gamble property said it will feature limited edition "Idol"-branded cans, an "Idol"-themed 15-second spot that will run during broadcasts of the show and a national sweepstakes offering one winner a trip to Los Angeles for the "Idol" finale.

Pringles also will launch the first Jingles for Pringles contest, a nationwide online search for unique expressions about the stacked potato crisps. Twelve finalists who submit videos of themselves performing jingles about the brand will receive an "Idol" digital video camera. The winner, chosen by a nationwide consumer vote, will receive VIP ticket packages to the "Idol" finale in Los Angeles, including hotel and transportation.

"This partnership will allow our fans to engage with the show in new ways through multiple channels," said Michele Welch, director of integrated marketing, FremantleMedia Licensing Worldwide, North America.

For its part, Samsung will be the featured handset in all of "Idol" integration partner Cingular's advertising around "Idol." Dreyer's Slow Churned ice cream is introducing five new "Idol"-themed flavors — Choc 'N' Roll Caramel, Hollywood Cheesecake, Soulful Sundae Cone, Triple Talent and Take the Cake — and is asking "Idol" fans and ice cream lovers to vote on their favorite flavor at Slowchurned.com.

The winning flavor will become a permanent offering in the Show Churned ice cream lineup. Fans who cast their votes also will be entered for a chance to win prizes including a 50-inch HDTV wide screen plasma TV, an "Idol" ice cream party for up to 75 guests and a grand prize trip to the "Idol" finale.

Ace Young, a finalist from last season's "Idol," will surprise 11 consumers participating in the online voting by showing up at their homes where he will serenade their guests at Dreyer's-sponsored ice cream parties. The Dreyer's promotion includes national TV ads, radio spots across several markets and in-store displays.

"We're spending more on this program than we really ever have in terms of a promotion," said Suzanne Ginestro, senior brand manager for Dreyer's and Edy's Slow Churned ice cream.

The Dreyer's promotion already is showing significant signs of success just a month after its launch in grocery stores, with year-over-year sales up more than 20% and the brand experiencing what it describes as "unprecedented levels" of support from its key retailers.

" 'American Idol' is watched by the whole family, and it blows the doors off of reaching everyone in the household, more than any other show," Ginestro said.

As part of Nestle's promotion, specially marked packages of Nestle chocolate bars will include one of eight letters, and the five fans who collect the series of wrappers that spell the phrase "Go to Hollywood" will win the grand prize package of a trip for two to Hollywood including tickets to the "Idol" performance and results finales.

"Because the property itself has such a broad appeal, it was a great way for us to build a promotion that would have great appeal across all our brands as well," said Dena DiSarro, promotions manager for Nestle Confections & Snacks. The Nestle promotion will feature "Idol" branding on more than 70 million candy bars and involve print and online ads as well as in-store displays.

"Right now it's an amazing time for 'American Idol' in terms of pop culture," DiSarro said. "We can leverage that popularity and deliver it to our customers."