In a throwback to advertising practices of the 1960s, All My Children will incorporate a real world company into its fictional storylines.
Beginning Monday, March 18, AMC will feature a 13-week storyline in which Erica Kane's cosmetic company, Enchantment, is featured in a corporate battle with real-life cosmetic company Revlon. It all starts when Revlon tries to hire away one of Erica's top employees, Greenlee Smythe. Erica learns of the competitor's chicanery and sends her estranged and not-so-nice daughter, Kendall, to Revlon to act as a corporate spy. During the course of the storyline, Erica will repeatedly refer to Revlon as "vultures" as well as some other not-so-flattering terms.
So why would any company want to be featured in a storyline where their image and products are badmouthed? It goes back to the age-old believe that there's no such thing as bad publicity.
In return for a placement in the show's storyline -- which is advertising in itself -- Revlon will be given exclusive rights to advertise its cosmetics products during the show's commercial time. That means that viewers will see such products as Revlon's Age Defying line of makeup and Colorsilk hair coloring. Other companies not specializing in cosmetics will continue to run ads during the show's commercial space.
If this sounds like a case of Revlon approaching the Disney-owned television network looking for a way to hock its products, that's apparently not the case. According to Angela Shapiro, president of ABC Daytime, the idea was actually that of AMC's writing team. Shapiro asserts that AMC's writing team had already developed the idea of having Enchantment battle a rival cosmetics company. Upon learning of the plot, ABC executives stepped in with the idea to approach Revlon about becoming involved in the plot.
Traditionally, soap operas use playful twist on nationally recognized names when referring to companies. For example, a popular store in AMC's Pine Valley is Lacy's, an obvious takeoff on the Macy's department store name. The use of Revlon's name marks one of the biggest storyline tie-ins to date.
The terms of Revlon's deal with ABC were not released. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that Revlon spent "several million dollars" in advertising on the show.
Corporate sponsorships are nothing new. Television viewers are already inundated with joint marketing ventures - most college football bowl games have corporate sponsors, CBS airs movie specials with the branding "Hallmark Hall of Fame" and Disney routinely promotes its movies with toys and other special deals at McDonald's. The reason behind the sponsorship is clear: networks are looking for ways to lower their own production costs. While AMC would certainly have generated advertising through its commercial time, Revlon's decision to pay for advertising exclusivity is seen as a way to increase revenue for the show.
In addition to shelling out a substantial amount of money, Revlon will also have the right to review and ask for changes to any storyline it feels is offensive to its image.
Some soap opera purists are already up in arms about the product placement. Fearing that AMC will stand for "All My Cosmetics," fans are worried that AMC will become a one-hour commercial for Revlon products.