Sponsor T-Mobile is taking NBC’s Tonight Show somewhere it’s never been before.
On Thursday night’s program, host Jimmy Fallon announced that the show will be airing from New York’s Central Park on Sept. 13, an idea dreamed up in association with the cellphone company.
"I just spilled the T," Fallon said in making what he called "huge" news. He said his guests on the show would include Blake Lively and Carrie Underwood. "I hope to see you there."
The announcement was followed by a commercial for the wireless company.
Fallon also announced a T-Mobile sweepstakes with the prize a trip to New York to attend the special episode.
“This collaboration represents the ultimate partnership through massive content collaboration and influencer talent, combining a cutting-edge, disruptor brand like T-Mobile with two of the most iconic names in late-night, Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show,” said Linda Yaccarino, chair, advertising and client partnerships, NBCUniversal. “We’re bringing T-Mobile customers and our audiences at home the unrivaled experience that only the scale of NBCUniversal can offer.”
At a time when advertiser are questioning the value of intrusive 30-second commercials, which can be skipped or ignored, many are looking to be integrated into programs and create original content in order to better engage consumers. Networks are accommodating marketers by creating in-show opportunities and building in-house units that create branded content.
“I love shaking things up … whether that’s disrupting the status quo in wireless or bringing the iconic Tonight Show to Central Park for the very first time,” said John Legere, CEO, T-Mobile. “This is what the Un-carrier does – we go big! And we won’t stop.”
The collaboration between the Tonight Show and T-Mobile began Thursday night with the on-air announcement. The week entire week of the Central Park show next month will feature T-Mobile content and its signature color magenta.
During the Central Park broadcast, T-Mobile will be the only advertiser with on-site signage. Some of the commercial breaks in the show will be dedicated solely to T-Mobile, while others will have spots from a variety of clients.
The Tonight Show staff will also be working to create content for digital and social platforms to reach the program’s active online audience.
T-Mobile will also be part of the Tonight Show’s special Veteran’s Day episode.
NBCUniversal did not disclose financial details of the deal, but said it was unprecedented in a number of ways.
The Tonight Show, and probably no other network late-night program, has ever originated from Central Park, said Josh Feldman, executive VP of network partnerships and integrated marketing at NBCU. And while the Tonight Show has integrated sponsors on air, it has not engaged in a partnership this deep he said.
Feldman said there was a lot of demand among advertisers to do more in late night with the Tonight Show. He said his group went to the Tonight Show to see if they were open to a large-scale partnership. “Their response was “yes, for the right partner though. Not for anyone.”
T-Mobile had been a Tonight Show advertiser, but had never done any type of integration with the program, but they liked the idea of a large-scale partnership.
NBC and T-Mobile held a number of brain-storming sessions to figure out what’s important to the brand and what’s right for the Tonight Show audience. “Together we came up with the concept of this Central Park episode,” Feldman said.
The Central Park episode will stick with most of the tried-and-true elements of the Tonight Show, such as the monologue, skits and musical segments audiences are familiar with.
But the show will also take advantage of its unique surroundings when it can.
T-Mobile will get exposure. “We’ve recruited very special celebrity guests and interviews on behalf of T-Mobile that will be a part of segments and sketches," Feldman said.
Will T-Mobile’s colorful CEO make an appearance? “I wouldn’t be surprised. John Legere likes to surprise and delight,” Feldman said.
Fallon doing other promotional work for T-Mobile is being discussed, Feldman said, but he said that would be the client’s announcement to make.
Fans can be part of the 1,000 person audience for the show in Central Park by entering the sweepstakes. Details are available at www.tonightshowT-MobileSweeps.com
In the week leading up to the Central Park event, T-Mobile will also build anticipation for customers and fans by offering opportunities to win tickets at select T-Mobile stores in New York City.