Network Ten has a perfect vehicle with its popular news-panel-comedy program The Project to forward promote current or up-coming shows on Ten.
By Steve Price.
After ten plus years as a regular panel member on Monday nights I’ve gotten used to interviewing everyone from evicted Bachelor in Paradise contestants to the latest evictee from I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
It’s a bit of fun with the jungle evictee interviews because Celebrity is run live so you are talking to celebrities who have just spent upwards of six or seven weeks locked away in a jungle camp.
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Monday’s are also reserved for the Sunday night shock eviction from the massively popular cooking reality show MasterChef.
In 2020, with the latest series, Ten took a huge gamble when contract talks with the three original judges Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Meaghan broke down. Ten was so sure that it was the format rather than the judges that Australia loved, they ticked the show off for another season and went looking for three new faces.
It was high stakes given that MasterChef allowed Ten to screen prime time, across up to four nights a week, a feel-good program that also was a perfect vehicle for brand integration and sponsorships.
Running since 2008, the cooking show has been the model for subtle and not so subtle brand placement with everything from knives to milk and food processors.
Fans at home were quick to embrace the idea that the perfect souffle was better attempted in an Ilve oven with A2 Milk out of a Fisher and Paykel fridge.
You might not realise it, but the other major sponsor Harvey Norman was sure to remind you next time you went shopping there.
And brand loyalty to Ten and the chefs has been extraordinary. Going back to 2018 for the tenth anniversary edition of the show with George, Gary, and Matt still firmly in control, the sponsors list two years later hasn’t changed that much.
We should remind ourselves of course that these deals were all signed pre-Covid-19.
Coles and Harvey Norman are still the major sponsors with Coles fitting out the famous pantry and the electrical retailer selling everything you see in the kitchen from stoves and fridge freezers to food processors and blast chillers.
In 2018, A2 Milk, Jacobs Creek and Bulla dairy products also featured so you can only presume MasterChef has worked its backside off for these national brands.
I think Cobram olive oil was also back and Global was the knife sponsor.
So did new judges Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen pull off the impossible and steer MasterChef through a complete makeover minus the Covid averse international celebrity chefs bar Gordon Ramsay – he was in early episodes before the virus hit – well, yes.
The first episode pulled 1.23 million viewers nationally and the show has been the feel-good hit of 2020, its first episode was its highest rating episode one in five years. By the middle of May it was still pulling a million viewers regularly.
According to AdNews, the finale was watched by a combined audience of two million Australians, the biggest winner announcement since 2016 and the largest non-sporting audience for 2020 so far.
Cooking and food were the stars and the feel-good factor in a year when there hasn’t been a hell of a lot to feel good about and was the perfect fit for Ten and its major sponsors.
Ten has already announced the new judges and the show will be back in 2021 and you bet those major sponsors will be as well.
About Steve Price
Steve Price is a national media figure appearing on TV Radio and in Print across the country. He is a panellist on Network Ten’s The Project and appears weekly on Melbourne’s Triple M Hot Breakfast program and most recently presented a networked Radio talk-back program across Australia.
He has just launched two podcasts on the podcast platforms On The Record – a behind the scenes chat with the biggest names in Australian media – and On The Road – a travel podcast featuring Australian and Overseas travel tips.
Steve appeared on season 3 of Ten’s I’m a Celebrity Get me out of here lasting 43 days and won the Xmas edition of Celebrity Come Dine with Me on Foxtel. He started his journalism career in print with the Adelaide News before shifting to the afternoon Melbourne Herald finishing as Deputy Editor before joining 3AW Melbourne as chief content director and Drive presenter.
In 2002 he shifted to Sydney’s 2UE presenting the breakfast, drive and morning programs networked around Australia.