I was able to catch the Thursday edition of the New York Times and read this article about ‘Trust Me’ – the new TNT drama about a Chicago advertising agency. ‘Trust Me’ premieres tonight.
The difference between this one, and say ‘Mad Men’, is that real products are being written into the script, including those from Unilever (Dove), Anheuser-Busch and General Motors.
The article calls this a “…growing trend known as branded entertainment…” In actuality, it’s one step away from what we will come to know as common television programming.
Let me explain.
- Television advertising is expensive and difficult to measure.
- Everyone I know except for my kids skips TV ads.
- Consumer attention is scattered between hundreds of choices, so the storyline must be great in order to get ratings. Most programs are canceled after just a few episodes.
- Companies can now, through the internet and advanced databases, communicate directly with customers, rather than promote themselves around traditional programming (advertising).
- People still watch great television (we watch one show in our house – ‘24‘ – but we do skip the ads), just as people still engage in great newspapers and great magazines.
If you agree with all this, there seems to be only one solution for corporations that want to promote their products and services through television – they need to become part of the programming (this may be the solution for the broadcasting business model as well). ‘Trust Me’ takes a leap into this area, but we will begin to see more programming dominated and created by one brand, similar to what Unilever developed with their 24-inspired series “The Rookie”.
At this point, I’m not sure when we will see more of this type of programming, but it is coming. In order for corporations to use this channel effectively, they’ll need to partner with content producers that understand how to tell a story, much like corporations have partnered with custom publishers for custom magazines, newsletters, enewsletters, microsites and so on. Of course, we believe in this model is coming sooner than later.