Syfy has signed Verizon Wireless as the presenting sponsor of its latest original series, the Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica.
The wireless provider has thrown its support behind the two-hour pilot, which bows Jan. 22 at 9 p.m., and will return for the season finale. All told, Syfy has ordered 19 episodes of Caprica.
Per terms of the deal, the Verizon logo will be visible in the lower third of the screen throughout the premiere, which will be presented with limited commercial interruption. The client also will receive tagged tune-ins and billboards, as well as a handful of traditional 30-second spots.
The nation’s No. 1 wireless provider also will enjoy category exclusivity in Caprica’s bookend episodes.
Syfy vp, ad sales Chris Czarkowski said that while neither the content nor format of the Verizon spots have been finalized, the carrier’s total commercial load in the pilot will add up to 90 seconds.
Verizon has been well represented across the broadcast and cable dial, and while the carrier hasn’t revealed which spots will run in the Caprica opener, it’s likely to tap at least one of its “There’s a Map for That” :30s. Since the campaign kicked off in October, the AT&T-tweaking Map ads have been all but inescapable on broadcast and cable TV, prompting a brief legal skirmish and a return of fire from the No. 2 wireless carrier.
Also flooding the zone of late are Verizon’s ads for the Droid smartphone, the new Motorola device powered by Google. Designed to muscle market share away from Apple’s iPhone, the Droid is the beneficiary of the biggest marketing push in Verizon’s history. (Estimates put the carrier’s Droid spend at around $80 million through the end of 2009.)
The only creative viewers won’t see during the Caprica premiere is a branded integration. Given the series’ setting (an alien planet in the distant future, some 58 years prior to the start of the Battlestar storyline), Verizon didn’t entertain the notion of a product placement.
“An integration would have been a difficult proposition in a show of this nature,” Czarkowski said. “Instead, Verizon’s looking at Caprica as a way to highlight their technology and…play off the tech themes surrounding the program.”
Verizon’s media spend in the first three quarters of 2009 put it behind only top dog Procter & Gamble, per TNS Media Research data. The company invested $1.69 billion in measured media from January through September of last year, down 5.8 percent versus the year-ago period. (Rival AT&T came in fourth, spending $1.34 billion, a drop of 6.1 percent.)
Caprica arrives on the heels of a record ratings year for Syfy. Per Nielsen data, the network formerly known as Sci Fi Channel posted its all-time highest fourth-quarter deliveries among total viewers (1.4 million, up 4 percent from the year-ago period), adults 18-49 (699,000, up 10 percent) and women 18-49.
For the whole of 2009, Syfy averaged 1.28 million viewers, good for 11th place among ad-supported cable nets. The network also finished ninth among viewers 18-49 (607,000) and seventh among adults 25-54 (690,000).
“We’re looking to keep the momentum going in 2010, and it all starts with Caprica,” Czarkowski said. “This will be a pivotal year for Syfy.”
Syfy began marketing Caprica in the spring of 2009, releasing a special cut of the pilot on DVD in April before going on to screen that same version at the San Diego Film Festival (Sept. 26), Woodstock Film Festival (Oct. 2 & 4) and Austin Film Festival (Oct. 24).
Last month, a print ad featuring Caprica character Zoe Graystone (actress Alessandra Torresani, striking the sort of pose that got Eve tossed from the Garden of Eden), began running in select national magazines, including the January 2010 issue of Vanity Fair. The Verizon Wireless logo appears in the lower left corner of the key art.