Turner, GM Craft Branded Microseries

Turner is revving up another branded microseries initiative, signing General Motors as the sponsor of a five-part strip bowing Jan. 28.

Each two-minute GM installment will run within a standalone pod during premiere episodes of TBS’ original comedy series, House of Payne (Weds., 8 p.m.).

The deal, which was hashed out in last year’s upfront, presents GM with an opportunity to give viewers a closer look at the 2009 Chevy Traverse, a four-door crossover SUV that starts at $31,255.

Designed to appeal to House of Payne’s core African-American audience, the My Manny microseries stars ER’s Sharif Atkins and Elise Neal (Hustle & Flow).

TBS will drive awareness through custom on-air tune-ins, in-show graphics and billboards. GM creative will run adjacent to each new episode of My Manny, adding the element of pod exclusivity to the mix.

Developed by the Turner Commercialization Task Force, an unofficial think tank led by Linda Yaccarino, evp and chief operating officer of Turner Entertainment ad sales/marketing and acquisitions, the microseries concept has gone a long way toward increasing audience retention and brand impact. For example, in a recent integration with another automaker, 46 percent of House of Payne‘s viewers demonstrated brand recall, up from the 16 percent rate generated by a standard 30-second spot.

Moreover, TBS’ earlier House of Payne integration boosted brand likeability to 36 percent, versus the 9 percent norm, per Nielsen IAG.

Through the first three quarters of 2008, GM retained its lead as one of the biggest investors in measured media, spending $1.7 billion, a drop of 4 percent versus the prior-year period, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

By comparison, Ford reduced its ad spending by 23 percent in the first nine months of ’08, laying out $1.1 billion overall.

Chrysler slashed its ad outlay by 26 percent in the same period, spending $694 million on measured media.

According to TNS Media Intelligence data, GM is also one of cable’s most stalwart backers, plunking down just shy of $104 million for national cable inventory in the first half of last year.