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WE net nabs sole sponsor

Pact runs through 3rd quarter of 2002

NEW YORK — In a deal that signals the evolving nature of television advertising, Johnson & Johnson has signed on as the exclusive sponsor of WE: Women’s Entertainment, Rainbow Media’s newly branded female cable net.

Pact, which runs through the third quarter of 2002, includes sponsorship of the network’s original series, specials, on-air events and branded blocks.

In addition, WE will produce customized shortform programming relating to lifestyle and health-related subjects.

Johnson & Johnson will promote WE through marketing efforts, including merchandising displays. Both parties declined to comment on the financial details of the deal.

Proprietary sponsor

Throughout the sponsorship period, Johnson & Johnson will be the sole advertiser on the network, formerly known as Romance Classics. Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2002, WE will become fully ad-supported, at which point Johnson & Johnson will have a charter position.

“This partnership presents a unique opportunity for Johnson & Johnson and its brands to have an exclusive relationship with the millions of women reached by WE,” said Johnson & Johnson corporate VP of advertising Andrea Alstrup.

Johnson & Johnson, which also advertises on WE’s competitors Lifetime and Oxygen, has been at the forefront of the trend toward sponsoring television programs.

The company backed the commercial-free premiere of the medical drama “Gideon’s Crossing” on ABC. The idea of sponsoring individual programs has grown increasingly popular, but no company had signed on as an exclusive sponsor of a network until now.

“With the ongoing fragmentation of viewing audiences, we must continue to find innovative ways for our brands to effectively convey their messages,” said Alstrup. “This initiative takes us in a new direction beyond traditional advertising.”

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