Ralph Lauren to sponsor ‘Downton Abbey’

Deal marks fashion house's first television sponsorship

Ralph Lauren has signed on as national corporate sponsor for long-running series “Masterpiece,” the showcase for hit drama “Downton Abbey.”

PBS said Monday that the television sponsorship is the fashion house’s first. “Masterpiece” has won six Emmy awards for outstanding costumes. The announcement coincides with Fashion Week in Gotham.

PBS said designer Ralph Lauren “has always had a true appreciation for the heritage and romance of England and reflects this through his fall 2012 collection, which is about modern glamour inspired by timeless character and refined elegance.”

“To have Ralph Lauren choose ‘Masterpiece’…. is an incredible tribute to our series,” said exec producer Rebecca Eaton at WGBH Boston. “Their support will help us maintain the standard of excellence that drew them to ‘Masterpiece’ in the first place,” she added.

“We are proud to be associated with ‘Masterpiece’ and public television,” said David Lauren, exec VP of advertising, marketing and corporate communication, at Ralph Lauren. Ralph Lauren’s first on-air sponsorship messages will begin on Sept. 30 with the broadcast of “Upstairs Downstairs,” and the company is planning unique spots for the various titles in the series.

Recently celebrating its 40th year on PBS, “Masterpiece” is enjoying a significant surge in popularity as 17 million viewers tuned into the second season of “Downton Abbey.” Auds the 2012 “Masterpiece Classic” season showed a 27% gain over 2011.

Fall titles include new episodes of “Wallander,” starring Kenneth Branagh. The third season of “Downton Abbey” starts in January.

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