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NBCUniversal, AmEx Join Forces For Mobile Shopping/TV Mashup

NBCUniversal and American Express have announced a strategic alliance that allows consumers to purchase products "inspired by" NBCUniversal programs directly from a mobile device, while the program is airing.

Early plans are for NBCUniversal's DailyCandy.com, which is a fashion and lifestyle portal, to curate a list of exclusive products inspired by Bravo's "Life After Top Chef," E!'s "Fashion Police," and Style's "Tia & Tamera."

No word yet if NBC will strike offer deals based on product placement during its broadcast shows—which it does fairly regularly and flagrantly. Witness Dwight on "The Office" working at Staples, and a dizzying list of placements on "30 Rock" in particular, from Snapple, Verizon, McDonalds.

"We know today's consumers are on other screens while watching television," concedes Linda Yaccarino, President of NBCUniversal Ad Sales, calling this arrangement "A seamless way to capture their attention around the products and experiences featured on the shows they love, [narrowing] the path-to-purchase for consumers," all the while offering perks to AmEx card members. "NBCUniversal's linear and digital portfolio uniquely positions us to meet the needs of any brand that wants to activate consumers in this unparalleled way."

American Express envisions TV "becoming a sort of two-way digital hearth," as VP of Global Media Content Development and Mobile Marketing Lou Paskalis told AdAge, "where a lot of information is exchanged, as opposed to simply consumed," whether that information is sheer entertainment or "commerce-enabling." Paskalis observed that consumers are impulsive, and hence, a target for impulse buys.

The program will use zeebox, the companion TV viewing platform for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android and the web that recently announced a partnership with NBCUniversal and Comcast Cable (among others) to provide two-screen technology that combines television and social media with commerce. Within the zeebox app, NBC viewers will get information on how to buy show-inspired items, including fashion and kitchenware. Plans are for each participating show to have a page tailored to reflect its style (e.g. with features like exclusive games, behind-the-scenes photos and facts, trivia, and unique offers). So, there will be content surrounding the shows, as well as purchase opportunities.

The campaign includes a series of 30-second custom vignettes that will run on each participating network, beginning November 7. The spots will be tailored for each property, featuring talent from the shows providing inspiration for the products, including Fabio Viviani (Bravo's "Life After Top Chef") and George Kotsiopoulos (E!'s "Fashion Police.")The on-air creative will also run online acrossDailyCandy, Bravotv.com, Eonline.com, and Mystyle.com.

The initial vignettes will feature show talent asking viewers to download the zeebox app and encouraging American Express Cardmembers to take advantage of the special offer. The second series of vignettes feature talent telling viewers to check out the weekly item for sale. Each week, a new show-inspired product will be offered.

To celebrate the alliance, American Express Cardmembers can receive a one-time $35 statement credit when they use an eligible American Express Card, which has been synced with their Facebook or Twitter accounts.

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