[Screenshot of episode featuring Gannett's top brand]
I must be one of the few Americans who've never seen an episode of highly-rated Project Runway, the Lifetime channel show where contestants compete for cash and prizes by designing clothing.
But now I've made the leap over to the dark side, having just viewed this season's Episode Four, co-sponsored by USA Today, "one of the nation's leading news organizations," host Joanna Coles helpfully explains.
In this episode (video here), contestants were asked to create something inspired by a photo supplied by one of their fans -- a challenge that allowed USAT to promote its emphasis on visuals with the struggling daily's redesign launched in September.
"At USA Today,'' marketing chief Sandra Micek says on camera, "we pioneered visual story telling and info graphics. We continue to be at the forefront of clear and concise visually driven story telling journalism."
(That's quite a mouthful of buzz phrases, and I suspect many viewers don't understand what they all mean. But perhaps this is aimed at the advertising industry.)
In any case, the episode's winner was promised a photograph and what Micek called an "editorial piece" in the paper.
Will this sort of product placement help the paper sell more ads, while also fueling rack sales and digital traffic?
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