Partnership includes Oscar, leap-day shows

BMW has taken on latenight.

The automaker inked a deal with ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to serve as the title sponsor of Sunday night’s “After the Academy Awards” show and has bought out all of the commercial time during Wednesday’s leap day-themed broadcast. It’s also taking over Kimmel’s YouTube channel throughout March, sponsoring videos with custom spots.

BMW is using the branded entertainment effort to promote its redesigned 3-series sedan, rolling into showrooms. Media agency Universal McCann brokered the deal for BMW.

For the Oscar show, BMW and UM also produced a custom-branded opening title sequence, with Kimmel landing in front of his theater in a tuxedo but missing a bowtie. Show sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez races up Hollywood Boulevard in a BMW with the tie to save the day. UM also produced multiple bumpers promoting the leap-day episode.

The loose tie-in with the Oscars is a coup for BMW given that Hyundai is the kudocast’s official auto sponsor.

Kimmel’s Oscar episode, his seventh, includes Oprah Winfrey and Coldplay. Episode regularly ranks as one of his highest rated each year, growing from its average of 1.7 million viewers to 4 million.

Over the years, the talkshow host has used the broadcast to premiere pre-produced comedy shorts like “F*@#ing Ben Affleck”; “Handsome Men’s Club,” with Matthew McConaughey and Sting; “Hottie Body Hump Club”; and “Tom Hanks’s Toddlers in Tiaras” that wound up becoming online hits through Kimmel’s YouTube channel, which has racked up more than 500 million views since its launch in 2006.

This year, Kimmel presented “Movie: The Movie,” which features Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Martin Scorsese, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Don Cheadle, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Samuel L. Jackson, Cameron Diaz, J.J. Abrams, Jessica Biel, Jason Bateman, Tyler Perry, Edward Norton, Colin Farrell and Ryan Phillippe.

But BMW has a bigger presence on Wednesday, when the show will air commercial-free, with the automaker featured during a five-minute skit (that it hopes goes viral), while the rest of the show will be presented by BMW and include comedic vignettes starring Kimmel, guests and crew that celebrate having more time.

BMW wanted to tie in with the one day every four years when everyone receives a full 24 hours’ worth of more time, the company said.

“It began with an insight into the target audience of BMW: very affluent consumers that, within reason, buy whatever they need, but the one thing they can’t buy is time, the one thing they covet the most,” said Paul Furia, a former William Morris agent who now serves as senior VP, experience architect, at Universal McCann.

BMW sparked to “Jimmy Kimmel Live” because “latenight was a priority” given the younger target demo his show appeals to but also the comedian’s past relationship with marketers like General Motors and Volkswagen, creatively integrating their products into the show.

“As one of our largest volume models, the 3 series appeals to a broader group of consumers than one might initially expect,” said Tom Penich, media communications manager, BMW of North America. “With the launch of this latest generation, we saw an opportunity to tailor our communications to late night television’s traditionally younger audience in a humorous fashion. The right audience combined with Jimmy Kimmel’s unique brand of comedy, made this an ideal partnership to help launch the new BMW 3 series in a memorable way.”

The leap-day episode was also “in the middle of the launch window” for the 3-series, Furia said. And it became more cost-efficient to buy out ads on “Kimmel,” with a 30-second spot averaging $30,000-$45,000, than on a primetime series, for example.

It also helped that Kimmel drives a BMW and that his humor is “clever and witty, not stupid comedy,” Furia added. “BMW wanted to find a way to have fun with itself.”

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