Another interesting approach to integrating content and commercials into a new type of package is going to be offered by MTV this week, launching on Thursday. This will be an eight-week experiment in which a two-hour block, hosted by the famed Three 6 Mafia, in which short-form content will air alongside sponsor content which will be more entertainment itself than traditional 30-second spots.
According to Beth Duggan with TelevisionWeek, the content will include "digital shorts, exclusive series content, recaps, previews and unique sponsor content," fully integrating sponsorship and show.
A single sponsor will be focused on each week, with Universal Pictures sponsoring the first week by focusing on its Knocked Up film.
Back in September 2005, I wrote about how Sony Pictures put together a single-advertiser sponsorship model for the FX show Nip/Tuck, in which trailers for various Sony Pictures movies aired during the show.
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. "
That single-sponsorship model for Nip/Tuck was successful enough that they returned to it the next year, with Pontiac as the single sponsor.
I also particularly enjoyed the way a 30-second spot was integrated into text in a unique way back in 2005 with the Tyson Chicken commercials that aired with CBS soap opera As the World Turns. I wrote about Tyson in December 2005, in which character Barbara Ryan from the fictional world of ATWT does a spot on the set of the show about all the atrocities she has perpetrated on the city of Oakdale in the past year, with the logo "Powered by Tyson" appearing at the bottom.
As opposed to blatant product placement within the show, the fans have accepted this spot as brilliant and regularly bring it up on message boards, etc. I think this is one way that producers could market their products along with entertainment in intriguing ways. The spot cost nil to produce, as it was filmed on the show's set with one of their regular actors, and yet it created a much stronger link between the fans of the show--As the World Turns--and the product. Now, Tyson seems to be a "hip" product in-line with what soap opera is really like, rather than a frozen food and chicken company trying to hock its products at the stereotypical housewife.
What sets the MTV model apart is the product integration into the way the show itself is laid out. So, while these examples still exist outside the text of the show, the advertisements will be treated as brand-driven content for the show, integrated into the format of the show with no "breaks."