FX has yet again relied on the sponsorship model that we have discussed previously with Nip/Tuck on Dirt Tuesday night. The new weekly drama, starring Courtney Cox and focusing on the life of the editor for two popular L.A.-based tabloids, was presented commercial free with only a short message at the beginning of the end about the sponsor of the show, Pontiac, who was providing this episode without commercial interruption.
I first focused on this model for FX in September 2005, when the season premiere of Nip/Tuck was 30 minutes longer and sponsored by Sony Pictures, with the only commercial interruptions being a few previews during the show for trailers for upcoming Sony releases.
In response to the Nip/Tuck episode, I wrote:
I found the idea to be a strong one because, with a film buff like me, I had almost as much interest watching the commercial breaks as I did watching the show. Also, with a show that has quite a bit of critical buzz and high production values, being supported by in-depth film trailers was not a bad move. I don't have any figures as to what Sony paid for the spots, but I thought it was a great way in trying to market the advertising a little more directly so that fans who had the opportunity to fast forward through the commercials, as I did, chose not to and willingly watched them.
They returned to this model and to Sony Pictures with another 1.5-hour season premiere of Nip/Tuck again last fall. In September 2006, I wrote:
Considering how successful this type of sponsorship has been in the few isolated experiments, I'm surprised that this hasn't been attempted more often. Even if Nip/Tuck only attempts this once a year, I am assuming that both FX and Sony Pictures see this as a smart cross-marketing opportunity, especially by carefully crafting what upcoming films they preview during a show like Nip/Tuck.
Over at Marking.fm, Eric writes, "The net result of this move is that I watched every single preview (read: paid ad placement by Sony) I think this method of sponsorship is highly effective." And awards it their advertise different award for the week.
I mused at other potential crossovers for sponsorship deals that could take place following this model. However, this Pontiac sponsorship shows that this type of advertising construct is attractive for more than just movie trailers, and in this case there were no advertising interruptions at all, other than just the brief announcement at beginning and end.
Really does take you back to the early day of television, except this example gives much more credit to the viewer that they can get the message that Pontiac is presenting the show without having to have reminders throughout, as with the Texaco men on Milton Berle. Really, it feels more like corporate donor messages on PBS than an advertising gimmick, which may help grant some goodwill for Pontiac. I don't know what the reaction is among the advertising community, if any, but I would like to find out if anyone sees further writing on the subject.