FremantleMedia and FremantleMedia Enterprises — known for reality series like “The X Factor” and “American Idol” — have acquired the format and licensing rights to “Recipe to Riches.”

Published: February 28, 2012

AS marketers increasingly embrace branded entertainment — embedding products in the plots of television shows and movies, making it difficult to ignore them — some denizens of Madison Avenue can recall when the practice was embodied by TV series like “Schlitz Playhouse of Stars,” “The Bell Telephone Hour” and “Lux Video Theatre.”

Now, a branded entertainment deal for a reality culinary competition series on the Bravo cable channel will give the presenting sponsor billing as a co-producer and add its name to the title — the official title, anyway.

The series, scheduled to begin in May, is formally known as “Around the World in 80 Plates Presented by Chase Sapphire Preferred,” which is a credit card from the Chase Card Services unit of JPMorgan Chase. Although the show will almost always be referred to as “Around the World in 80 Plates,” the acknowledgement in the title is another sign of the growing interest in branded entertainment, also called branded content.

Bravo and JPMorgan Chase are to announce the agreement on Wednesday as a promotional campaign for the series starts. Coincidentally, another deal in branded entertainment, also for a reality culinary competition series, is to be announced on Wednesday.

That deal is centered on plans to expand to markets around the world a Canadian show, “Recipe to Riches,” in which a national supermarket chain sells products based on the recipes from home cooks that win the competitions held each week.

Chase Card Services is an ardent fan of branded entertainment as a way to gain attention. It has also teamed with the Sundance Film Festival and cable networks that include AMC, National Geographic Channel and Travel Channel.

“It’s a very crowded space,” said Sean O’Reilly, general manager for Chase Card Services, referring to the credit card category. He added that he was eager to find “opportunities for consumer engagement” that offer “more than buying ad time in a show.”
For instance, in addition to the nod to the brand in the title, the credit card will be integrated throughout the 10 episodes of the series, which will follow 12 chefs visiting 10 countries in 40 days.

There will also be content about the show available only through the Chase Sapphire Facebook page, Mr. O’Reilly said, along with “events in local markets and an opportunity for customers to use points to go to the finale party” for the series.

Commercials for Chase Sapphire Preferred will also appear during “Around the World in 80 Plates,” along with commercials for other products.

The deal between Chase Card Services and Bravo is estimated at $5 million to $8 million. They were brought together by Newcast, the branded entertainment unit of the ZenithOptimedia Group division of the Publicis Groupe. (Zenith Media is the media agency for Chase Card Services. McGarryBowen, part of the Dentsu Network West unit of Dentsu, is the creative agency.)

The series was appealing for Chase Sapphire Preferred, said Susan Joseph Smith, senior vice president and managing director at Newcast in New York, because “it taps into card members’ passions, food and travel.”

Those cardholders would probably be unhappy, she acknowledged, if the show were to be filled with shots of “card swiping” and similarly obtrusive plugs.

“When a product placement is too overt, it has a negative effect,” Ms. Smith said, so the embedding of the credit card in the series is being done with a “very light hand.”

Kevin McAuliffe, senior vice president for cable branded entertainment at Bravo Media — a unit of the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment division of NBCUniversal, part of Comcast — echoed Ms. Smith.

“There’s always going to be guard rails,” Mr. McAuliffe said, to prevent crossing the line from entertainment to peddling, because “driving people nuts” is “not what we strive for here.”

The brand integrated into “Recipe to Riches” is President’s Choice, the private-label line of products sold by Loblaw supermarkets, owned by the Loblaw Companies. The initial season of “Recipe to Riches” appeared on Food Network Canada from October through December. Season 2, with Loblaw returning, is planned for fall 2012.

As part of an agreement between Temple Street Productions, the creator of “Recipe to Riches,” and Capital C, an agency owned by MDC Partners, the series was offered to international distributors and American networks. The announcement on Wednesday will be that FremantleMedia and FremantleMedia Enterprises — units of the RTL Group known for reality series like “The X Factor” and “American Idol” — have acquired the format and licensing rights to “Recipe to Riches.”

“I was at the Realscreen Branded Entertainment Forum last fall when a 30-second promotion ran for ‘Recipe to Riches,’ and it jumped out at me,” said James Ngo, director for brand acquisition and development at FremantleMedia Enterprises in Los Angeles, because “it’s about the product and the potential for the product to live beyond the television show.”

Rob Clark, director for global entertainment development at FremantleMedia in London, described the series as “the tangible, edible version of ‘Idol.’ ”

“Our shows are positive; you vote for the people you like, instead of voting people off,” he said. “Here, you vote for the one you like and the day after, you can go eat it.”

Michel Pratte, director for strategy and business development at Temple Street Productions in Toronto, said the company and Loblaw “had the same desire, that if we wanted to experiment with branded content we wanted it to be subtle.”

The grand prize winner of the first season was Glo McNeill, 82, of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, whose recipe is available at Loblaw stores as President’s Choice Luscious Lemon Pudding Cakes — and, in French Canada, as les Gâteaux au pouding Citron sensationnel le Choix du Président.

Source: The New York Times