December 8th, 2008

Sprint, Garmin have role in Fox's '24'

By Dave Hayes
Kansas City Star

Whether we like it or not, product placement is taking on a larger role in commercial TV production.

Sprint Nextel and Garmin International are both product placement veterans, and Fox’s “24,” which officially begins its seventh season in a month, will feature both prominently.

Sprint and Nextel phones already had a heady role in Fox’s two-hour movie, “24: Redemption.” The movie, which aired last month, showed star Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer talking on a Sprint phone to a former Special Forces pal, who appears to be talking on a Nextel phone.

The episode, which takes place in Sangala, Africa, doesn’t explain the technological fine points of this seemingly impossible conversation. Sprintees, after all, often comment they can’t even get a signal on campus in Overland Park.

But that’s TV. Sprint will be a sponsor, both in traditional commercial and product placement, throughout the season, which formally begins Jan. 11.

In the meantime, Olathe-based Garmin International is taking up sponsor duties for 24:Dossier,” a Webisode series currently airing on the Net. Garmin’s products show up in cameos in the Web series, which chronicles the government’s investigation of Jack Bauer’s alleged misdeeds as a CTU agent.

Garmin today is expected to kick off a contest giving consumers a chance to win tickets to see a sneak preview of the first 24 minutes of the show at the Garmin Chicago retail store in January.

And the company has designed a couple of vehicles to download to your Nuvi to replace that boring old coupe directing you to Grandma’s house this holiday season.

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