‘Gold Rush’ Sponsors Pay Off for AOL

NEW YORK AOL has signed five brands to sponsor Gold Rush, its upcoming reality competition series, with the portal pulling in close to $20 million, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

The show’s category-exclusive sponsors include Best Buy, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola Zero, T-Mobile and Washington Mutual. The core of these deals will be brand integration, with sponsor products weaved into the Mark Burnett-produced show, which involves groups of contestants competing for cash and gold valued at over $2 million.

Each sponsor will also run an extensive ad campaign across AOL’s network of sites. The ad packages, which are still being hammered out, may also include inventory within the show’s video content.

Gold Rush, which debuts on Sept. 13, will invite fans across the country to answer trivia questions. Clues will be hidden throughout AOL’s various properties as well as on select CBS prime-time shows. The top performers will eventually be pitted against each other in a competition for $100,000 in gold.

Until recently, the concept for Gold Rush had yet to be fully fleshed out. That was partially by design, allowing potential sponsors to help shape the show’s format and create placement opportunities, according to Kathy Kayse, executive vp, sales and partnership alliances, AOL Media Networks, “Advertisers were interested right away because of the concept,” she said. “We were able to work with them on ad programs while the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed.”