Media buyers responsible for product placement in the soon to be defunct show Push, Nevada are now beginning to understand the risks involved with product placement contracts. With the premature cancellation of Push, advertisers feel that their products did not receive the exposure needed to show off specific features of their autos and cell phones.
In addition, due to sweepstakes laws, the show is running longer than warranted by advertisers to allow the $1 million prize to be awarded leaving the sponsors with advertising commitments and little audience to justify it.
$4 million fee
In addition to the product placement deal with LivePlanet, Toyota and Sprint each bought three 30-second spots in the show from Walt Disney Co.’s ABC. Over the course of the series, this translates into about a $4 million deal for each advertiser above the placement fee.
The series was to run a scheduled 13 episodes. But after its premier, the show moved into the prime Thursday night lineup at 9 p.m. against hits Will & Grace on General Electric Co.’s NBC and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on Viacom’s CBS. Ratings tanked. For its Oct. 3 episode, Push posted a weak 1.5 rating among adults ages 18 to 49, leading the network to cancel the series after its seventh episode.
That’s not soon enough for media buyers. “They should have canceled it now and taken it off [completely],” said Steve Sternberg, senior vice president and director of Audience Analysis of Magna Global USA, “rather than announce its cancellation now and show three additional episodes.”
Typically, networks pull shows with consistent ratings declines after three episodes.
Another veteran media executive said if the show ended sooner, advertisers could have taken back money or received make-goods sooner.
But ABC and LivePlanet have to keep the show going because the plot line, which follows the travails of IRS agent Jim Prufrock, ties in with a sweepstakes that awards $1 million to a viewer who solves the murder mystery in the show. Sweepstakes laws state the money must be given away.
“We want viewers of Push to see the outcome of Prufrock’s investigation, and airing it through the seventh episode will give closure to the storyline,” said Susan Lyne, president of ABC Entertainment, in a statement. Revised contests rules will be revealed soon on abc.com.
Push has the distinction of the first cancellation of the fall season, and ABC is still working on its turnaround.