May 24th, 2012

When Marketing Links Web and TV Dramas

The New York Times

IN the season finale on May 31 of “Touch,” the Kiefer Sutherland drama on Fox, AT&T takes an unusual approach to paid product placement: showing characters using a mobile phone app that does not, in fact, exist.

The app, Air Graffiti, is being developed by AT&T but is still a twinkle in the eye of developers, who say it is a long way from being available to consumers. The app will enable users to leave location-based messages for one another in a street-view map. In the episode, Mr. Sutherland points his smartphone at a building and sees a message — a series of numbers — that was written by his son.

Highlighting what is only on the drawing board, which the company also does in some television commercials, helps promote AT&T as an innovation-driven company — and the message is aimed not just at consumers.

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