NEW YORK Publicis Groupe's MediaVest has struck several unconventional upfront deals with broadcast and cable networks that reduce commercial loads and present branded content and traditional 30-second spots in new ways.
The agency and the networks will conduct research to gauge the effects of the deals on viewer engagement.
One of the agreements, with Time Warner's TNT, would put MediaVest clients such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Capital One in a handful of prime-time theatrical films that will run with roughly 50 percent fewer ads than usual.
Typically, TNT airs about 12 commercial minutes per hour. Under the agreement with MediaVest, the inventory would be reduced to six minutes, leaving less of the film on the cutting-room floor.
"It's sort of a natural fit to test less commercialization in theatricals," said Donna Speciale, president of U.S. broadcast and programming at MediaVest. "People go to the movies for a reason," she said. "You want to be entertained and watch movies with no interruptions."
The new commercial ratings that Nielsen Media Research will disseminate in the fall will help agencies and clients determine if the reduced commercial loads will lead to less ad skipping, said Speciale. (Nielsen is a unit of Adweek parent VNU.)
Speciale said the agency would also use focus group testing to gain insights into how the reduced inventory impacts viewer attitudes about the films, the network, the advertising and the client.
Separately, MediaVest reached a deal with the new CW broadcast network that involves branded entertainment "content wraps" and monthly ad buys tied to a specific night of network programming.
The agency's Connective Tissue branded-entertainment unit headed by Brian Terkelsen will produce three nightly 90-second content segments under the "CWH" banner, a sort of play on the shorthand used in text messaging popular with the network's younger audience ("C what's hot, hip and happening").
The three 90-second segments will have a common theme and tie-in to the CW programming. The segments could be about fashion or the talent on the CW shows, but will also showcase specific sponsors, Speciale said.
"It's not going to be blatant, or in your face," she said. "They are designed for the viewer to come away with a specific impression about the brands."
On nights that the CWH wraps are broadcast, the number of traditional 30-second spots will drop proportionately. MediaVest clients will pay for the content wraps and three traditional follow-up 30-second spots, for a total of six minutes of time per night.
As previously reported in Adweek, the agency also fashioned a deal with TBS to have clients sponsor one-minute pods at the start of programming each Monday night. The pods will contain humorous spots matching the context of the programming.