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"If you want to put a film festival a long way from the highway, good luck. But if you have an exit and a lot of signage around it, you're going to do better," says Eric Bader, in a recent Ad Age article (subscription required).

Eric's part of a new wave of media buyers who represent the major brands, and his film festival describes Microsoft. As SVP of MediaVest, he committed Kraft marketing dollars to sponsor a new video food show appearing on MSN.com. Both Kraft and Microsoft collaborated, and their "Chef to the Rescue” show will be aimed at busy mothers.

Microsoft welcomes Kraft and other sponsors just like the old-time TV shows used to do. This seems like online sponsorship with added punch. Here Kraft gains heavier exposure, for a video program that Microsoft wants to promote anyway. We'd like to know how Kraft will ultimately value the sponsorship, weighing audience size versus frequency.

Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to search for ways to improve visitor stickiness and currently plans ten pilots with an external production company. These pilots will proceed with or without major sponsors. MSN certainly reverses course from its portal competitors, who are quickly abandoning original production.


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