Big Brother and all his friends are watching you

As the interest in Big Brother continues apace, Glenn Trouse examines the marketing success it has brought with it through partnering with other ventures

The coverage – both positive and negative – received by Big Brother is now verging on the obsessive.

My interest in the show’s success is perhaps more vested than most as ebookers.com is Big Brother’s official travel partner.

The show’s ratings, combined with an appetite for real-time delivery of news from inside the house through the Big Brother website, offers enormous opportunities to leverage marketing activity and drive traffic to its various partner sites.

The real route to marketing success as a sponsor in a project such as this is always going to be based upon creating synergy with your own business. For example, the betting sites that are associated with Big Brother offer odds and information on contestants’ popularity and their likelihood of survival in the show. Within a few weeks, this had already driven a reported &£250,000 worth of bets, the largest amount of money to be staked on the outcome of a television show since the “Who shot JR?” cliffhanger in Dallas back in the early Eighties.

That’s not to say that a co-marketing sponsorship of this magnitude is without risk. The convergence of off- and online co-marketing opportunities is so new that anyone entering into a similar agreement should consider the options carefully.

Before entering an agreement, get everything – such as all placements and size specifications – agreed in writing, including penalties for under-delivery. Be aware that the relatively new equation of off- and online combo-deals with multiple “owners” of a given property can leave sponsors on shaky ground.

ebookers.com has focused on the travel-related elements of the show, enabling the general public to vote to send each of the contestants on a themed holiday: for example, yoga fanatic Sada will soon be going on a Buddhist retreat to Bhutan.

By creating a travel “fit” and providing the interactive voting option, we’ve been able to attract 6.6 per cent of the total Big Brother site visitors to click through to ebookers.com. The holidays are also available for site users to buy and this cross-selling opportunity has enabled us to drive weekly sales to more diverse destinations. Additionally, a competition that allows multiple entries on a weekly basis and which publishes winners’ names online has done much to create “stickiness”.

Whatever it is that drives viewers back to the Big Brother website and to the daily television updates of the show is an online marketer’s dream and is something that all of the show’s partners have been able to successfully leverage online – plenty of food for thought if television sponsorships are any part of your future marketing plans…

Glenn Trouse is chief marketing officer of ebookers.com

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