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On the Road

Taking the show on the road is giving Twentieth's Ambush Makeover
a lift. At the end of August, Twentieth put the Ambush Makeover team in a colorful bus that's crisscrossing the country, giving makeovers to anyone who volunteers. Affiliate stations are running contests and giving free makeovers to winners during their early-morning newscasts.

The effort has paid off in several cities. In Washington, Cleveland and Detroit, Ambush Makeover enjoyed an immediate bump from the bus tour. For example, in D.C., the show jumped from 0.8 rating/3 share to 1.3/4. In Cleveland, ratings rose from 1.7/7 in week one to 1.9/7 the week of the tour.

Last week, the "Whole New You Tour" parked outside the Park Meadows Mall in Denver. Fans got T-shirts and Paul Mitchell shampoo. Inside, stylists readied the built-in salon. Las Vegas-based style agent William Watley was on hand to provide on-the-spot makeovers.

The good buzz, however, hasn't translated into national ratings. Ambush has seen only a slight jump, moving from 0.9 in the metered markets to 1.1 after two weeks. In its first week, debuting Sept. 13,
Ambush averaged a 0.9 in the national ratings, making for an indifferent start.

Orchestrated by Hadley Media, the "Whole New" tour started in Boston on Aug. 26. It will hit 31 markets over the next three months before ending up in New York. En route, the tour will stop in Orlando, Fla., where it will be featured in a segment for the Banyan-produced show. One contest winner will be treated to an all-expenses-paid trip to Miami, where he or she will join the truck for a head-to-toe makeover.

The key benefit is local press, says Susan Kantor, vice president of marketing for Twentieth Television. It's tough getting stations involved unless it's a big syndicated show. "We've been in 12 markets and gotten over 130 minutes of TV coverage—time we don't normally get," she says. Overall, she estimates the tour will drum up local coverage worth about $6 million in paid ads.

For Ambush
executive producer Chris Rantamaki, it's a personal way to extend the brand: "It creates grassroots loyalty for the show."