[08/16/06 - 12:00 AM]
Five Blue-Chip Marketers Sign on to Sponsor Gold Rush - the Groundbreaking Interactive Reality Game from Mark Burnett and AoL.com

[via press release from AOL]

Five Blue-Chip Marketers Sign On to Sponsor Gold Rush � The Groundbreaking Interactive Reality Game From Mark Burnett and AOL.com

August 16, 2006

Five blue-chip sponsors have committed to Gold Rush, the groundbreaking interactive reality game from Mark Burnett and AOL.com - where players can turn their entertainment and pop culture knowledge into gold. Best Buy, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola Zero, T-Mobile USA, Inc. and Washington Mutual will each participate in a multimedia quest for gold which will live on AOL.com, with clues to be found on CBS primetime television shows, as well as in other offline media.

With $2.2 million in gold hidden across America, this interactive game combines the excitement of the reality genre with a multimedia entertainment experience where online is the focus. With online video programming surging in popularity, Gold Rush takes full advantage of this phenomenon from a content production and marketing standpoint. Sponsor messaging is woven organically into the game itself, creating a seamless experience for players. In addition, the game leverages the power of offline assets to drive participation and interest.

In each round of game play, the first three online players who correctly complete all the required challenges will be whisked away by producers to a dynamic location where they will compete � reality-style � for $100,000 in gold. In the final round, players will compete for $1 million. Each sponsor will be integrated into online game play as well as offline gold discoveries. Producers will work intimately with each sponsor to craft highly creative integrations that achieve their marketing objectives and infuse their brands into the core entertainment experience.

"Attracting sponsors of this caliber speaks volumes to their confidence in the ability of new media to deliver measurable results," said Mark Burnett. "We are excited to work with these companies and to integrate their brands and messaging into Gold Rush - the first reality event that the whole country can participate in - while enhancing and fulfilling their marketing needs. Gold Rush is the first truly cross-platform media event designed specifically for the internet but in cooperation with network television, print publications and radio."

"With well over half of the country now on broadband, the time for this kind of interactive video programming has come. By combining the reach of AOL.com � over 113 million users each month � with the track record of superstar producer Mark Burnett, Gold Rush promises to provide a unique and powerful opportunity to reach consumers," said Kathleen Kayse, executive vice president, sales & partnership alliances, AOL Media Networks.

According to Ruby Anik, senior vice president of advertising at Best Buy: "Best Buy is the place where people every day discover how to get more fun from their technology. That's why the connection to Gold Rush for us is crystal clear. This is an interactive reality game that delivers the experience our customers already depend on Best Buy to help them achieve."

"Gold Rush is a distinctive, interactive way to connect with consumers. We're thrilled to partner with AOL and Mark Burnett to integrate America's number one automotive brand into America's hunt for the gold," said Kim Kosak, Chevrolet general director of advertising & promotions. "It's these kind of partnerships that keep Chevrolet at the forefront of cutting edge, innovative marketing platforms to deliver our product messages in an engaging and effective way."

"With the entertainment landscape constantly changing, we are always looking for innovative, interactive ways to communicate with people," said Katie Bayne, senior vice president, Coca-Cola Brands, Coca-Cola North America. "We've created a persuasive connection between Coca-Cola Zero and the Gold Rush experience by developing exclusive advertising with embedded clues that gives viewers a fun, compelling reason to interact with our brand."

"At T-Mobile, we're all about connecting people," said Andrew Sherrard, vice president, integrated marketing services, T-Mobile USA, Inc. "And in the middle of pursuing over $2 million in gold being connected easier and faster to people who can help you win is a great asset."

Genevieve Smith, chief marketing officer,Washington Mutual said, "The Gold Rush sponsorship is a great fit for us. It's clever, it's fun and aligns strongly with our consumer-friendly brand. The promotion is already stirring up a buzz and we fully intend to use it to reach out to millions of potentially new customers."

Gold Rush will debut on September 13 on AOL.com at www.aol.com/goldrush.

About Best Buy Co., Inc.

Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE: BBY) is an innovative Fortune 100 growth company that continually strives to create superior customer experiences. Through more than 930 retail stores across the United States and in Canada, our employees connect customers with technology and entertainment products and services that make life easier and more fun. We sell consumer electronics, home-office products, entertainment software, appliances and related services. A Minneapolis-based company, our operations include: Best Buy (BestBuy.com and BestBuy.ca), Future Shop (FutureShop.ca), Geek Squad (GeekSquad.com and GeekSquad.ca) and Magnolia Audio Video (a href=http:// Magnoliaav.com>Magnoliaav.com). We support our communities through employee volunteerism and grants from The Best Buy Children's Foundation.

About Chevrolet

Chevrolet is America's No. 1-selling automotive brand. With the largest dealer network in the United States, Chevy is the leader in full-size trucks and the leader in sales of vehicles priced $35,000 and above. In addition, Chevrolet delivers more-than-expected value in every vehicle category, offering cars and trucks priced from $9,995 to $72,235. Chevy delivers expressive design, spirited performance and great value with standard features usually found only on more expensive vehicles. Chevrolet's global headquarters is at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. For more information, go to www.chevy.com.

The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company. Along with Coca-Cola, recognized as the world's most-valuable brand, the Company markets four of the world's top five soft drink brands, including Diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite, and a wide range of other beverages, including diet and light soft drinks, waters, juices and juice drinks, teas, coffees and sports drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company's beverages at a rate exceeding 1.3 billion servings each day. For more information about The Coca-Cola Company, please visit the Web site www.coca-cola.com.

About T-Mobile USA Inc.

Based in Bellevue, Wash., T-Mobile USA, Inc. is a member of the T-Mobile International group, the mobile telecommunications subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG. T-Mobile USA's GSM/GPRS voice and data networks in the United States (including roaming and other agreements) reach more than 275 million people. In addition, T-Mobile operates the largest carrier-grade, commercial wireless broadband network in the United States, providing Wi-Fi access at more than 7,800 public locations throughout the country, with further Wi-Fi access being made available at nearly 30,000 international roaming locations. For more information, visit the company Web site at www.t-mobile.com. T-Mobile� is a federally registered trademark of Deutsche Telekom AG.

About Washington Mutual, Inc.

Washington Mutual, through its subsidiaries, is one of the nation's leading consumer and small business banks. At June 30, 2006, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $350.70 billion. The company has a history dating back to 1889 and its subsidiary banks currently operate more than 2,600 consumer and small business banking stores throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at http://newsroom.wamu.com.

About Mark Burnett

Mark Burnett is the leading producer of reality content for both primetime television and the internet. Mark Burnett has revolutionized television with hits such as Eco-Challenge, Survivor, The Apprentice, The Contender, Rock Star: INXS, Rock Star: Supernova and his upcoming co-production with Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Television, On The Lot. Mark Burnett has also partnered with AOL on the eagerly anticipated adventure Gold Rush, the first-ever unscripted project to be produced exclusively for the internet. Mark Burnett has also successfully reintroduced product placement as an integral part of each of his shows and his companies have garnered a total of 33 Emmy nominations since 2001. Mark Burnett was listed as the #1 Most Valuable Player by TV Guide and in Time Magazine's Top 100 most influential people in the world today.

About AOL

AOL and its subsidiaries operate a leading network of Web brands and the largest Internet access subscription service in the United States. Web brands include the AOL.com� website, AIM�, MapQuest� and Netscape�. AOL offers a range of digital services in the areas of education, safety and security, communications and music. The company also has operations in Europe and Canada. AOL LLC is a majority-owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. and is based in Dulles, Virginia.

* Nielsen NetRatings, March 2006

  [august 2006]  


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