June 4th, 2009

Bravo's 'Top Chef Masters' Sprinkled With More Upscale Sponsors

By Andrew Hampp
Advertising Age

Longtime Partner Toyota to Integrate Lexus Brand Into Spinoff Featuring Elite Chefs

Bravo is cooking up a high-end special based on its “Top Chef” franchise. On June 10 the network will premiere “Top Chef Masters,” a 10-episode spinoff in which established chefs will compete for charity. The cream-of-the-crop approach has translated to the show’s sponsors as well.

Longtime sponsor Toyota Motor Co. has upgraded its involvement to focus on Lexus, which will provide the winners of each of the nine qualifying rounds with $10,000 for the charities of their choice, totaling $90,000 in donations. New this year is Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Stella Artois, which will sponsor weekly on-air tune-in spots and billboards. Online, Stacy’s Pita Chips will host an online viewing party in Bravo’s BHive, providing fans with party kits, game ideas and other branded features.

The individual challenges on “Top Chef Masters” will also be put through Bravo’s rigorous “brand filter” for integrations and product placements. In recent seasons they’ve included everyone from Diet Dr Pepper to Butterball to Quaker Oats, amid occasional fan backlash.

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