ConAgra’s Reddi-Wip is putting the icing on top of NBC’s live presentation of The Wiz with a dollop of original content inspired by the musical.
With advertisers clamoring for live programming, NBC sold out The Wiz Live! about three weeks ago. And with the show airing near the beginning of the holiday season, marketers in a broad range of categories have signed up, according to Dan Lovinger, executive VP for entertainment advertising sales at NBCUniversal.
The Wiz Live!, airing Dec. 3, is NBC’s third live production following last year’s Peter Pan Live!, which drew a 2.4 rating among adults 18 to 49 and 9.2 million viewers, and The Sound of Music Live!, which rang up a 4.6 rating and 18.6 million viewers in December 2013.
Lovinger said the network is expecting The Wiz to top Peter Pan in term of viewership. “We do know about our live productions is they’re multigenerational and multi-ethnic. A show like the The Wiz will attract a broad audience,” he said.
A year ago, NBC asked about $350,000 per 30-second commercial in Peter Pan, on the high side for anything on broadcast other than NFL football. Lovinger declined to comment on spot prices, but side the show had heavy demand.
“We sold about as much as we sold last year with Peter Pan in the upfront knowing that we wanted to hold some back for scatter. And the scatter market has been really vibrant so we’re very pleased with the results,” Lovinger said.
Though sold out, NBC has a few advertisers waiting in case a spot or two becomes available because of the vagaries of a live production. In that way, The Wiz is like a baseball game, which has advertisers standing by in case of excess pitching changes or extra innings.
“You almost have to with a live show like this,” Lovinger said. “We’ll roll through the dress rehearsals knowing where we think this show is going to end. But depending on the adrenaline of the actors and actresses you may end up finishing 30 seconds or a minute faster.”
Reddi-Wip signed up to sponsor The Wiz during the upfront and worked with NBC on developing custom content starting late summer.
Reddi-Wip is supporting its Share The Joy program, designed to find ways to make consumers happy.
“We partnered with The Wiz to help share the joy of music during our key holiday season,” said Kate Briganti, director, content creation at ConAgra Foods.
The company contributed funds to musical art program at the Excel Academy Public Charter School in Hyattsville, Md.
Content during The Wiz will include performances by students at Excel Academy inspired by The Wiz.
“Reddi-Wip is on a mission to help people experience more joy every day,” said Briganti. “Only two out of five Americans think they have enough joy in their lives. And when they do experience joy it’s fleeting because they don’t share it with anyone. We know that small indulgences bring joy to 90% of Americans; 94% say hearing their favorite song is a small indulgence that brings them joy.”
There were a number of reasons why The Wiz was a good fit for Reddi-Wip.
“We were attracted to the holiday timing, musical nature of The Wiz, and strong rating delivery of NBC’s live theatrical programming over the past few years,” Briganti said. “Finding ways to integrate brands organically into live programming is often challenging. There are no guarantees a live performance will happen as planned. NBC brought us unique ideas that linked our brand messaging with the fabric of the show and supported the program overall.”
Reddi-Wip will not get brought-to-by credits during the show.
“We are by design trying to keep this show available to a number of advertisers,” said Lovinger. “Last year we had a heavy retail presence with Walmart. What we decided was it made more sense this year given how important this time period is to retailers to be able to include a number of retailers. So there is no presented by.”
A number of retailers have bought ads in the show, as have other advertisers interested in reaching consumers during the holiday season.
At a time when TV networks’ ratings are dropping because of time-shifting and streaming competition, NBC, under Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt has opted to be innovative and take risks with live performances designed to create events that will generate living-room viewing.
“There’s something to this time of year where families are more willing to sit down together and enjoy wholesome programming and that’s what we’re trying to create with a show like this,” Lovinger said. “NBC is more committed than anybody to creating those kinds of environments for advertisers to tap into these multi-generation and family viewing environments.”
Wiz Live! stars Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Shanice Williams, David Alan Grier, Ne-Yo , Elijah Kelley, Amber Riley, Stephanie Mills, Uzo Aduba and Common.