I believe that we are on the cusp of a new golden age in TV insofar as that is possible in this day and age. What happens on TV can now be live-tweeted and discussed as it happens online. There are plenty of new ways to get content to audiences. Netflix has made streaming shows possible. HBO continues to dominate with original programming and AMC has put forth two groundbreaking shows in Mad Men and Breaking Bad that are an inspiration to writers everywhere. This new TV rennascaince needs to coincide with the internet revolution and the smartphone sensation that is currently gripping the digital world. Whoever can harness the technology to maximize the viewership of the most high quality content will rule the airwaves for the foreseeable future.
Some people won’t even watch television anymore because they can’t take all the commercials. Others use Tivo and DVRs to skip the commercials. I look at the problems faced by both advertisers and viewers alike and think that there has to be a way forward that makes everyone happy. Why not simply write ads into your favorite shows? Make a joke of selling out or utilize a products features on a drama. The Oscars prominently displayed Samsung’s new device and utilized them frequently throughout the on-air show despite the fact that almost all of Hollywood uses iPhones. It was embarrassing because all of the backstage pics and selfies were posted to Twitter via iPhone while all the official Oscar content was streamed with the Samsung devices.
Living History presents a unique model that will work very well with the right companies and provide a powerful new paradigm for episodic television for the future. My goal is to have no commercial breaks during the show. The way I will accomplish this is by writing the companies and products into the show. Say you’re Captain Morgan and you want to advertise with us. Great! Every time a protagonist achieves some sort of feat Captain Morgan can jump on screen and state: “he had a little captain in him. Got a little captain in you?” It’s funny in the context of the show and because there was an actual Captain Morgan who served in the continental army we can write a storyline that weaves the character in. We can do the same with say Sam Adams as well. Guess can design George Washington’s uniform if they like. The possibilities are endless. Want to promote McDonalds? I’ve got plenty of fast food jokes. The point is that we can work together on a new model that can change consumer attitudes and actually help businesses get more and better exposure. With our unique crossover to the internet we could create an online trivia contest or extended story ideas.
Some have suggested that there is little difference between this and what say Budweiser is doing with its’ story-run ads. Let me tell you the difference. Viewers don’t enjoy sitting through ads, but they love watching their favorite shows. What if you combined the two so that the audience enjoyed watching the product be utilized and got the message that the advertiser was trying to get across all in a positive environment? The net positives when it comes to the perception of the product will go through the roof because the audience will see it in the context of something they actually enjoyed watching. There’s this misnomer that exists about “positive adplay.”
Marketing firms have convinced themselves and subsequently their clients that a couple million views on YouTube means that customers enjoyed watching their ad. That simply isn’t true. All that means is that a video has been viewed a few million times. That’s it. You could suggest that people only search for things they like but then how do you explain things like Reddit, Stumbleupon and other filler sites that people watch when they’re bored. Many times people watch things when they’re bored that they otherwise wouldn’t watch because they may have found something amusing about it or maybe they like one of the celebrity endorsers. The point is that none of this has anything to do with the positive perception of a product. By controlling the story the way a product is used as well as factors such as when it is viewed and what the mood of the viewer is when they view it can create a new advertising paradigm that makes people have a higher opinion of certain products based on their utility value.
If a product is helpful to Thomas Jefferson when he is helping his daughter with her homework (think mobile apps) then the next time someone thinks about homework they may think of your product. The more you use comedy in this model the more advantageous it becomes. The trick with this new advertising paradigm is that it must be limited to just a few sponsors (say three or four an episode.) Because the show is running ad-free these sponsors would have to pay a higher price. But it would be worth it to create a better image of your product and create a memory in the viewers mind of a character using a product, saying a slogan, or otherwise mentioning a product.
In the end, because Living History tells a story however the product is interwoven becomes a positive part of each viewers memory. When they think of a scene or character they will think of your product. I call this unique advertising because each individual ad will become an “experience” and a permanent part of the show. Because we are creating individual experiences for our audience built around products we are also changing the way that these characters interact with the world around them which could suggest even more positive benefits for using your product. Traditional product integration methods have become outdated because they are expected and because they don’t actually move goods off the shelves. You could have level three product integration on a show and still have each one of those companies essentially wasting their money on ad time because not only is the show not directly involved in how the product gets utilized in the show but they have no creative incentive to view it differently. What my paradigm does is make the product a part of the show and thus a story in and of itself. The more integrated things become ultimately the better off all parties are.