As our ability and desire to skip TV commercials has increased, so too has many advertisers’ creativity to prevent such an instinct. Marketers have tried everything from simply making better ads, to sponsoring entire episodes of TV to make it commercial-free, to creating spots tailored to a specific show. Now get ready for the show-within-a show.
Well, sort of. For TNT’s upcoming spy drama Legends, starring Sean Bean, Hyundai and the network teamed with digital content studio New Form, headed up by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, to produce an 11-minute short film over three commercial breaks during the pilot episode online and teased during the network premiere on August 13.
“The Genesis” seems to align almost too perfectly with the TV show’s spy thriller genre–the trailer alone features a treasure trove of familiar tropes–a shadowy corporation, shipyard at night, threatening whispers, kidnapping, smart watches, not-quite gratuitous product placement–wait, what? Oh right, the Hyundai Genesis. The car will also make an appearance in Legends as part of the brand’s full-court press campaign with the show that includes exclusive sponsorship of the show’s homepage and social media outreach.
“Together with New Form Digital, our branded content short is written and produced with the identity theme from Legends in mind,” says Turner Entertainment’s senior vice president of integrated marketing, Dan Riess. “It’s a natural extension to the show’s dramatic storytelling and level of high quality production.”
Successful product placement needs to walk a fine line between anonymous and annoying. The Genesis looks to have it both ways by creating a story viewers might actually like, while also being upfront about its branding.