Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble Co., a pioneer in television soap operas, is leading a trend of blending commercial messages with programming in a new TV reality show featuring one of its brands, Gillette.
An ABC summer series that debuts Thursday night has celebrities including actor William Shatner, singer Jewel and skateboarder Tony Hawk learning stock-car racing from Gillette-sponsored NASCAR drivers. And the promotion goes beyond commercials—Gillette not only helped conceive the show, but its presence runs throughout, from the show’s title to logos on drivers’ firesuits and cars.
“The creative concept and the brand are intertwined,” said Steve Fund, global business director for Gillette, the company known for its shavers that P&G acquired in 2005. “Really, the show is the ad.”
With ever-increasing entertainment choices and TV viewers’ ability to skip commercials, networks and advertisers have been exploring different ways to make televised product promotions, including weaving them into TV programmes.
“The standard 50-year-old advertising model that P&G almost invented doesn’t work nearly as well anymore,” said Leonard Lodish, a Wharton School of Business marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Lodish, who has researched and written about television advertising, said TV promotion is being transformed, from product placement to incorporating companies into shows such as NBC’s “The Apprentice” reality series.
In it, competitors’ tasks revolved around sponsors such as Burger King and The Home Depot. NBC is owned by General Electric Co.
“It’s pretty interesting that they even let stuff like that on TV,” Lodish said of the race show. “It really does have Gillette all over it.”
He said the trend could start turning off viewers as the commercializing becomes more obvious. “I think consumers are becoming a little more sceptical as they understand what’s going on,” Lodish said.
Gillette and the BBDO advertising agency worked together to develop the series, titled “Fast Cars and Superstars—the Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race.” AP