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USA Network Taps Saab in Product Integration Deal

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USA Network has formed a deal with Saab USA to use multiplatform integration of the Saab 9-3 Convertible in second season episodes of Burn Notice. The car is driven by one of the  show's protagonists and is featured in an online game called Covert Ops.

"Saab USA is another example of the many ways we're partnering with our advertisers across multiple platforms," Chris McCumber, evp-marketing, digital and brand strategy at USA Network, said in a statement.

Nine episodes of the show will air this summer and another seven starting in January. The deal also includes full Saab presence on the Web site for Burn Notice, as well as ad buys during the show.

"It's a relationship that hits some major platforms," said Alexandra Shapiro, USA Network's svp-brand marketing and digital. "On-air is the core component, integrated into the show. Then through online, with Covert Ops, as both the presenting sponsor and through integration in the game."

Covert Ops, at BurnNoticeOps.com, invites visitors to play a game and become an operative by helping characters solve a case. The Saab 9-3 is integrated into the game through branding experiences tied to missions. Players receive interactive video hints, e-mails and text messages from the cast as they are given instructions for various challenges. Players who complete each challenge are eligible to win the grand prize: a 2009 Saab 9-3 and a visit to the set of Burn Notice in Miami. Covert Ops will run until the end of September.

Through its affiliation with the series, Saab is addressing a key demographic: 25- to 54-year-olds with a higher-than-average income.  This season's premier of Burn Notice (on July 10) delivered 2.7 million viewers in the 25-54 age group, the second highest of any original cable series this year, per USA Network.

Saab seeks to follow in the footsteps of Volvo and Mercedes with a smaller, more affordable entry-level car that is scheduled to debut in the next few years.

General Motors has forged several placement deals with USA Network shows over the years, including the integration of Buick into Monk and its self-proclaimed "eco-friendly" vehicles into an episode of Law & Order: CI.

Cadillacs were used in initial episodes of Burn Notice before the deal with Saab was finalized. Saab spent $26 million last year on advertising and $3 million through April (not including online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.