New York commuters who travel through the new World Trade Center transportation hub were met with quite the spectacle today, the debut of a football field-size GIF installation for NBC's sophomore sitcom Superstore.
NBC and Giphy partnered on the campaign, which features GIFs of the show's cast, and which the network hopes will appeal to millennials.
The network is advertising on all 19 LED displays of a marble-lined corridor in the World Trade Center transportation hub, which opened earlier this year. It's the first entertainment company to appear in the space.
The nine most prominent of the 9-by-8-foot panels are devoted to the Superstore installation, with the other 10 featuring more traditional key art for NBC's other shows.
"It's about the length of a football field; it's absolutely insane," said Kjerstin Beatty, svp of media at NBC Entertainment. "Customization is everything. That's the way we're able to connect with audiences in a very fragmented world."
The network was looking for a different campaign to mark the return of its first successful sitcom in several years. While most series end up advertising in Times Square, "what World Trade Center represented to us was this beautiful, new canvas for us to create something custom and speak to the tech and advertising communities and the very young workforce that's down there," said Beatty. "More and more, you read about all sorts of companies relocating down there, so we felt that we were hitting a very important audience."
While NBC has worked with Giphy before, the companies have not collaborated on anything this high-profile.
"We were inspired by the space," said Beatty. "In my whole media career, I've never had such a canvas or platform where we could bring a show to life, and that's really what we're doing versus having a static billboard or even a digital static billboard. This is full motion. You could charge people admission—it's that good!"
Certain days will feature custom GIFs relating to the work week: Monday Blues, Wednesday Hump Day and TGIF on Friday. The GIFs can also be downloaded on Giphy's Superstore page.
NBC has been advertising in the World Trade Center space for three weeks but launched the GIF installation for tonight's Season 2 premiere of Superstore. The display will be up through Oct. 16, and NBC is already thinking about future uses for the space.
"It presents an opportunity for us to stand away from our competitive set," Beatty said. "Times Square is so cluttered, and what we love so much about this is we're delivering a lot of impressions. But it's so uncluttered, because it's this beautiful white, marble, art gallery-like feel. Every day, it gets harder and harder for us to break through, especially in outdoor, and this was just so ripe for the picking."
While Beatty said Superstore has a "voracious base," its audience also takes its time catching up with the show. Last month, NBCUniversal's research guru, Alan Wurtzel, told reporters that Superstore's Season 1 premiere had a 4.8 rating over four months among 18- to 49-year-olds. That almost equaled The Voice's fall season premiere rating (5.0) over the same extended time fame.
"This is a fundamental change in the way that people watch TV," said Wurtzel, who called it "a four-month phenomenon."
NBC also gave Superstore a big spotlight last month during the Olympics by airing an Olympics-themed episode of the sitcom following the second-to-last night of its Rio coverage.