Something Funny Happened While Watching TBS

Last night, while watching reruns of The Office on TBS, I noticed something peculiar. During a commercial break, one of the network’s stand-up comedy shows was advertised — a typical house ad.

But it had an odd feel to it. Instead of the montage style you might see on Comedy Central, showing punchy clips of comics making political quips and weird faces, it was one continuous 30-second segment from a single act. The “bit” being performed had to do with the female comic’s wish that picking out things in life (outfits, men, etc.) was as easy as the interactivity offered on Cars.com.

I thought this was a little weird because of the format and the product mention. Then my suspicions were realized when the subsequent commercial was a Cars.com spot. This could be a total coincidence. But more likely, Turner is mining its content for favorable mentions of products, which it then uses as a lever in ad sales.

This is in line with other recent experiments we’ve covered at Turner, which places spots within commercial breaks that are thematically similar to “keywords” mentioned in a movie being broadcast.

Pairing an ad with a more “organic” spot is a bit different, but it is interesting for a few reasons. It can give the advertiser the appeal of a one-two punch during a commercial break. Turner meanwhile doubles up on promoting its own shows and its advertisers in one shot.

There would seem to be downsides though. There are likely a limited amount of product mentions in stand-up routines that 1. are favorable to the product (example); and 2. cross list with TBS’ universe of possible brand advertisers.

The creative itself can also suffer if it is serving two masters; the best clip isn’t often going to be the one that mentions an advertiser. In fact, the Cars.com bit in the stand-up routine wasn’t really that funny (I’ve seen much better material from this comic). The actual Cars.com spot, ironically, was a lot funnier.

But all that might not matter because in the end it was an effective impression and the advertiser got its way; I came away thinking about Cars.com.

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This is an update of an earlier post in which I mistook TBS for Comedy Central (which was subsequently viewed.)

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. BC

    I’ve seen that spot but I have a different take on it. It seems to me that the product mention was probably sold to Cars.com and and the network just created the spot specifically to accomplish this – of course they can get some PR for a show at the same time, thus probably co-oping the spot with the advertiser. Watch the show (if they actually is one) and see if that same clip is included. I bet it will not.

  2. BC

    It reminds me of the Truman Show – that movie with Jim Carey were his life was broadcast 24/7. The movie spoofed product placement the whole time- his wife holding a can of cleaner and saying how great it is etc… Funny as it is it’s probably the future platform for television.

  3. Commercial Errors

    The problem I have with commercials on TBS is that when they run movies in the evening, the commercial breaks aren’t quite right. They’ll cut off mid scene, have 2 commercials, go back to the movie, then a regular commercial break 7 minutes later. It’s been like that all summer!

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