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The commercial break is dead! How does that word make you feel? Frustrated maybe? Yup, try as we might things are getting increasingly difficult to market through commercials. As per NBC’s annual holiday musical tradition, Hairspray Live will be aired live on NBC tonight, but nothing is complete without some good old fashion commercials, right?   Ultimately advertisements fund the shows we watch and love. So why not find a way to integrate commercials with the show? NBC is hoping to do exactly that.   NBC wants commercials on their channel to feel a part of their live showing of Hairspray Live, rather than an inconveniently separate interruption.   Several examples we can expect to see tonight: Toyota will be bringing their commercial back to the 1960’s setting of Hairspray Live, featuring a 2017 Corolla together with another Corolla, but 50 years older. Reddi Wip and Oreo Cookies will be bringing in actual cast members from the musical. In addition, NBC will be showing live backstage scenes from the musical on split screen alongside other advertisements.   News OK quotes NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt saying, “The more you can make the audience feel that the ads are part of the zeitgeist of the show, the less they feel like, ‘oh, it’s a pharmaceutical ad in the middle of this joyous musical.’” I couldn’t agree more Bob.

Struggles (Aside from Deflating Hair)

Many are struggling in the marketing field in regard to commercials. When one can simply skip or fast forward through commercials, what’s the point?   As stated earlier, if no one wants to give commercials, then how are our favorite shows funded? NBC understands that something needs to change and soon. Commercials are necessary, but they don’t have to be so bothersome.   I second NBC’s push to integrate commercials into the show itself in order to bring down that barrier of separation. However, this new method of TV ads may fail. It all depends on viewers responses, which I’m eager to discover tonight!   Can this be the future? Or will this be even worse? This is why the integration is only an experiment for now and I’m curious to find out how it works out tonight.   Ultimately we want to get our product out there and we want people to pay attention without negative association. There are some that say product placement is the future but there are some fundamental differences that aren’t covered. sharp-1844964_1920-1 Product placement has its own place and is effective in its own right, but simply cannot replace commercials. The concept is too subliminal and won’t have the direct effect commercials have, one has no idea who to speak to or where to for what product.   Sometimes people don’t have any idea what the product is, and, in some cases, viewers simply get annoyed with product placement interrupting their pure viewing experience.   The reasons continue but my point is this, product replacement cannot replace commercials. NBC may have started a trend to find alternatives as a solution to the current commercial crisis, but again, we can only really start checking results tonight as the concept is put into practice.   I expect to see other ideas popping up in the near future to either fix or change the way advertisements are used in connection to TV or online streaming as well.    

In Spite of Hairspray Live Innovation, The Future is Still Hazy

Maybe NBC is right. Maybe the concept and creativity within Super Bowl commercials need to be a daily concept rather than annual. It’s certainly a major success for those marketing within the Super Bowl. We expect to see mostly football themed commercials with some even starring professional athletes, so in theory the same concept should work for other shows (although the split screen idea is a new one).   I, for one, am eager to find out how successful the integration idea comes out tonight with Hairspray Live. If successful, this concept can shape the future for marketing everywhere.   A day to remember will be the day the commercials can have significant effect, with minimal interruption, and NBC is taking that important first step. I’m looking forward to seeing how NBC helps me to enjoy Hairspray Live and see what commercials integrated into a show looks like. As Tracy Turnblad says, “I’m a modern kind of girl, I’m all for integration.” Me too Tracy. Me too. I can’t wait!        


James Mello
James is the Lead Author & Editor Product2Market of Blog. James writes for the Product2Market blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Marketing.