New Mandarin show has opps for brand roles

A new drama that will debut on Rogers OMNI Television's fall schedule is set to begin production in Toronto next month, and the producer says there's room in the script for marketers looking to put a Mandarin spin on their brands.

For marketers looking to reach a Mandarin-speaking or new-immigrant audience, Once Upon a Time in Toronto, a drama series set to begin production in Ontario in February, may be of interest. The project is a Canada-China copro between Toronto-based Goldspin and Beijing’s Western Movie Group, to which OMNI has committed $32.5 million. The script is currently being fine-tuned, and a host of brand integration and product placement opportunities are up for grabs.

Goldspin founder and executive producer for the series Irene Chu tells MiC a preliminary estimate of the project’s brand and product integration opportunities includes: soft drinks, coffee, bottled water, sports cars, diamond rings, casual fashion items for young men and women, dog food and other products for the series’ two canines, hockey gear (suitable for games featuring children and college students), real estate For Sale and Sold signs and laptops. Other scenes planned for the production could provide brand integration for banks, airlines, tourism and grocery stores.

Chu says the series aims to bring the best of Toronto and Ontario to audiences in China, who are already somewhat familiar with Vancouver and Ottawa. Location shots planned for the production schedule include the University of Toronto, Queen Street East, Unionville’s Main Street, the CN tower, the Beach boardwalk, Niagara Falls, a northern Ontario snowscape, Chinatown and an ice rink.

Rogers Media CEO television, Leslie Sole, calls the company’s support of the drama ‘a breakthrough of global proportions for cultural television.’ Rogers OMNI.2 will debut Once Upon a Time in Toronto this fall. Details about the cast will be released after production begins next month.

OMNI Television Programme Information Coordinator Sandy Zwyer tells MiC the net’s Chinese programming – especially news and Super Cinema HK Movies – has a weekly reach to over 50% of the existing population. Once Upon A Time will receive national distribution on OMNI’s local channel markets and likely garner interest beyond Canada’s borders borders, based on recent media hits for the funding announcement.