Squeezing every drop out of campaign

Cadbury Schweppes' Sunkist brand gets behind CW's 'One Tree Hill'

When "One Tree Hill's" Sunkist-sponsored episode that was shot in Honey Grove, Texas, airs May 9 on the CW, it will be the latest in a series of branded entertainment initiatives that parent company Cadbury Schweppes has turned into the focal point of its marketing campaigns in an effort to get the most bang for its buck from networks and producers.

Cadbury Schweppes vp media Alice Nolan said the strategy has been effective, allowing a company with a smaller marketing budget to score high-profile integrations and branded entertainment campaigns without having to pay integration fees or up its media commitments — though it does sometimes have to pay limited fees for marketing rights.

"In our categories, we're definitely very outspent, so every penny is critical," Nolan said. "So we developed a process and strategy that would really stretch our dollars and programs further. We've done a 360-degree marketing approach, and I think that's made a difference in terms of having success with various networks and producers.

"There are a lot of companies doing integrations, but it may not be something the entire brand is getting behind," Nolan added. "We make the integration a focal point of our whole marketing plan. For Sunkist, this is it: 'One Tree Hill' is our big marketing effort for the year."

Nolan said Cadbury took a similar tack when integrating Snapple into NBC's "30 Rock" in the fall and Sour Patch candy into ABC Family's "Kyle XY" last year. Cadbury's Stride gum also will make its upcoming integration deal with Fox's "The Loop" a focal point of its marketing strategy, she said.

Nolan said that as a result of the strategy, the company neither pays any additional fees for integration nor does it have to increase its network media buys. "We absolutely have to buy less media because of our promotions," she said. "We found out that point-of-purchase materials are definitely valuable in these deals. They definitely sweeten the pot, especially for newer shows."

The CW declined comment on the terms of Sunkist's deal with "Hill" but acknowledged that its marketing dollars are factored into the equation. "We look at all the pieces a brand is bringing to the table and evaluate them on a case-by-case basis," said Alison Tarrant, senior vp integrated sales and marketing at the CW.

By sponsoring a contest that awarded the winners a guest appearance and the chance to have an episode filmed in their hometown, Sunkist gave fans greater access to the show and in turn built a stronger relationship with those fans, Tarrant said. The episode was shot in Honey Grove after eight teens from the town submitted the winning 30-second video describing why the show should be filmed there.

Nolan said that after its initiative with "Hill" last year, the brand not only saw an uptick in awareness but an incremental sales lift of about 10%.