USA bucks promo trend with ‘Traffic’

Net to circulate branded dollar bills

USA will pay you to watch “Traffic.”

As part of an ambitious marketing strategy to launch the three-night event — and the third “Traffic” project to date — USA has stickered 50,000 one-dollar bills with the cabler’s logo and the miniseries’ premiere date, Jan. 26.

The bills will begin circulating next week in Los Angeles and New York at various “hot spots” and bars that have agreed to integrate the money into its tills. USA partnered with marketing group Media Kitchen to brand the cash.

“We have limited resources and this is a considerable effort. Legally, you’re allowed to sticker dollar bills,” Sarah Beatty, senior VP of marketing for USA Networks said, noting the adhesive is easily removable.

“The last thing we want to do is deface the American dollar. Thematically, it ties into this whole idea that everything is connected.”

The mini, along with both the U.K.’s Channel 4 original and Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning feature, dealt in the hows and whys of drug trafficking and consumption.

Also for the first time, the general entertainment cabler has distributed several thousand CD-ROMs, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and a trailer, inserted into copies of the New Yorker.

Insiders peg it as a multimillion-dollar effort — a significant amount for the basic cabler. Beatty described the campaign as one of the channel’s biggest, targeted at a specific high-end audience.

“One of our goals was to create buzz early with entertainment enthusiasts, people who are a bit more discerning than the average television viewer,” Beatty said.

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