TV Guide Logo Gets Tattooed

By Steve Smith

Visitors to today will see a first in the 55-year history of the venerable media guide brand. That familiar red logo now looks like tattoo art as part of a promotion for A&E Network’s series “Tattoo Highway.” This the first time the TVGuide iconic image has been morphed for the benefit of a sponsor, but evp and general manager Paul Greenberg says that it came about as a collaboration between two old time partners. “This was a mutual idea,” he says. “When you cultivate relationships like we have with A&E you can work collaboratively.” had devised the logo-morph idea previously for another client, Showtime, but it hadn’t been deployed.

The one-day logo-morph is part of a full site takeover for the “Tattoo Highway” promotion. A&E purchased all ad units at the site for the day, and a takeover unit will meet visitors to the front door. Advertisers are looking for the share of voice and high visibility that such inventory buy-outs allow, says Greenberg. “People tend to buy out the program grid or the online video guide for months at a time, and the next natural step is to sell the whole site. I think that advertisers today are obviously looking for as much impact as possible. They want to try to push the envelope and reach audiences in ways that have never been done before. They value unique ideas.

The deployment comes at a time when magazine covers are beginning to sport promotions and evermore intrusive ad units push themselves into the Web advertising mix. These are all the usual signs of an advertising downturn. As media spending shrinks and publishers fight for dwindling budgets, there is a tendency to let clients get closer to the content and the media brand than publishers might permit in more flush times. Greenberg does not think, however, that TVGuide’s willingness to alter its logo as a promotional tie-in for a sponsor is a concession. “I don’t view it as a compromise. I view it as a partnership,” he says. “We aren’t’ changing it to something objectionable or anything that would interfere with the ethics of what we do. It is supposed to be fun. We need to be careful stewards of the logo.” Greenberg couldn’t say how often might rework the logo for a sponsored promotion, but it appears to be a part of the product mix. “We will do it if it makes sense for them and for us and if it is contextual,” Greenberg says.