CBS and AOL Combine to Outwit TiVo

22 May 2006

Creative thinking rather than techno-attack could prove to be the weapon that defeats ad-skipping by TiVo users.

Gold Rush, a simple but impressively neat promotional concept conceived by AOL and TV producer Mark Burnett, may well be the answer to fears that TiVo signals the beginning of the end for TV advertising as we know it.

AOL and Burnett, the creator of such hit reality shows as Survivor and The Apprentice, have teamed with Viacom's CBS network to launch a web-based treasure hunt that invites viewers to become 'gold diggers' in a quest to find over $2 million (€1.56m; £1.06m) in gold bullion stashed in locations across the US.

Clues as to the whereabouts of the bullion will feature not only on the main AOL family of sites but also in selected TV and radio commercials.

Crows Burnett: "CBS can offer advertisers a way to make their [ads] more relevant. It's a TiVo buster: instead of people TiVo-ing through the commercials, they're going to be TiVo-ing again and again to watch the commercials."

And it isn't only Burnett who's enthused. According to CBS Marketing Group president George Schweitzer: "Since we announced it at our upfront yesterday [Thursday] at Carnegie Hall, our sales department was swamped with requests for presentations. With advertisers looking to engage more, this creates a new opportunity."

Clues will test viewers' knowledge of existing programming and commercials. Adds Schweitzer: "Certainly you're going to be much more engaged with the programming and the commercials. You have to be watching to play."

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff