Can Product Integration Succeed? TNT Says "Trust Me"

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With branded entertainment quickly becoming the advertising method of choice for networks and media buyers, it is only natural that they will seek to find creative ways to incorporate brands into storylines. When you have a show set at an advertising agency, the integration practically writes itself.Dove has signed on as a sponsor of TNT’s new drama series Trust Me. The Dove brand will be incorporated into the plotline of the series, set at a top Chicago ad agency.

Beginning with the March 9 episode, the agency, smarting from the loss of a major client, will step up its efforts to keep current client Dove satisfied by creating a new campaign for its conditioner brand. Dove will also be featured through passive integrations in the first two episodes of the season.

There will also be an interactive feature to the campaign, allowing users to create their own Dove spots, much as the copywriters featured in the series are tasked with doing.

TNT worked with Mindshare, Unilever’s media agency, to build in the promotional elements.

A similar campaign with Rolling Rock beer will take place later in the season.

“We are marketers just like our advertising partners and understand the absolute necessity to have meaningful platforms to communicate to consumers effectively,” said Linda Yaccarino, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Turner Entertainment Ad Sales/ Marketing and Acquisitions. “Both powerful brands, Rolling Rock and Dove Hair Care, will have the opportunity not only to communicate their message through custom TNT marketing and promotions driving awareness for the series, but also to give viewers a glimpse into their branded objectives through compelling storyline development. It’s a unique way for viewers to emotionally connect with each brand on an entirely new level.”

This is a very clever (albeit very meta) marketing strategy, albeit one that would probably only work on a show like this. Sure, we have seen the judges on American Idol drink out of Coke cups, and Jack Bauer drive a Ford, but having a marketing campaign featuring characters on a show create a marketing campaign? My head is getting dizzy just thinking about it.

Now if the quality of the writing that incorporates the brand into the story is successful, I would expect to see a lot more of this happening. It is a challenge for a writer to work in product integration to this extent. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

It is only fitting that in a show about advertising, the ads become the story.