Its funny how everything old is one day new again. Akin to the Johnny Carson days of old, television talk show hosts are communicating sponsors product information directly to their audience. As audiences continue to be battered and overwhelmed by advertising, sponsors are looking for more creative ways to connect with consumers. In the April issue of Conde Nast's Portfolio, Laura Caraccioli-Davis, executive vice president of media planning and buying agency Starcom Worldwide, says late night and syndicated daytime talk shows are offering live commercial options in an effort to combat ad avoidance and the clutter of commercial breaks.
The traditional thirty second spot is dead. Live commercial options are just the latest effort in how agencies are now creating custom branded content such as the action packed trio of "The Hire" movies produced by Fallon Worldwide in 2002 for BMW; to more common strategic product placement within everyday commercial television shows. Custom content, advertisers are finding, produces a larger share-of-discussion with consumers which leads to deeper brand identifiably; whereas with product placement your entrusting your brand to a more subtle tie-in to the popularity of the show within a certain targeted demographic. Audiences notice those Coca-Cola cups sitting atop the judges table on American Idol and identify themselves with the shows characters that choose to drink it. With a live commercial, you are merely taking product placement, and the implicit endorsements that are its by product, to the next level. For a simple direct approach think Oprah's Book of The Month club or products that get hyped on a morning program like The Today Show.
Yet all of this is nothing new. Radio stations have been successfully incorporating live commercials into specific talk shows such as Imus, Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh etc…for years. Here is a classic case of what works in one medium logically attempting to transition into another. We’ll have to wait and see if audiences buy in.
***Chase Wegmann is Director of Business Development & Client Strategy for a advertising, branding and marketing agency in New York City***