Fox To Get Social With Pepsi-'X Factor' Deal

Expect social media to be a big part of the X Factor sponsorship package that Fox sold to Pepsi.

The creative approach still needs to be worked out, but social media will not only be used to co-promote the new show from Simon Cowell, but it will also be used to keep viewers involved, says Jean Rossi, Fox Broadcasting’s executive VP of sales who is in charge of what the network will be a burgeoning business in integrated marketing.

Rossi says that Fox has learned much from its integrated marketing partnerships on both American Idol and on Glee. The network has already had partnerships with American Express and General Motors on Glee, and there’s another big one coming up, she says.

As Fox has learned more, the deals have become more complex, with many moving parts added to the package. Social media has been a part of some of the integrated packages Fox has done with Glee, “but we’ve never gone to the level I think we will go to with Pepsi on X Factor. And I would say that distinguishes this deal from any others that we have done,” she says.

In the deal announced Tuesday, Pepsi will be the full-season sponsor of X Factor, which will air in the Fall on Fox. The release says the sponsorship includes an extensive, multi-platform off-air marketing partnership; weekly in-show integrations and placements; and an immersive content experience online.

So will Cowell, who always had a Coke within reach on American Idol, now be chugging Pepsis? “I’m not sure whether they’ll be cups on the table or what the actual set up is, but my guess is he probably will start liking Pepsi,” Rossi said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Rossi noted that sponsorship packages like these sell for a significant premium to what simply selling spots during the show would bring in. Reports have put its value at anywhere from $50 million to $100 million.

Under the Pepsi deal X Factor will run with the traditional amount of commercials. Fox will also be looking to sell sponsorship packages of shorter, three or four week, durations.

Rossi, who is also in charge of Fox One, the unit responsible for assembling deals that span multiple News Corp. properties, says that at this point, only Fox Broadcasting is involved in Pepsi’s X Factor sponsorship.

Nevertheless, Rossi says putting this integration was very interesting. “All of them are really different and exciting. I personally love it and you really take an in-depth look into your customers objectives and we try to marry what we’re doing and what the production is willing to do within the realm of the show.”

Rossi says the objective is to make the integrations organic and impactful without being obnoxious. “I think we’re getting good at it frankly,” she said.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.