GE is looking for more laughs.
General Electric, a proven fan of NBC comedy in the past, has agreed to sponsor the network’s “Tonight Show” with new host Jimmy Fallon, and will be included in segments in which kids appear on the program showcasing new inventions alongside Fallon’s own work. NBC said GE’s presence in the show will begin next Wednesday – two days after the new “Tonight” debuts – and will appear twice more on the show over the course of the 2014 season.
The big company – the former owner of NBCUniversal before Comcast purchased a controlling interest in it in 2011 – will also sponsor a new app for the program, where viewers can share content from the latenight talk show.
“This type of first-mover, innovative content is exactly what GE is looking to develop with our media partners and we’re excited to be an inaugural partner with Jimmy and ‘The Tonight Show,’” said Linda Boff, executive director, global brand marketing, at General Electric, in a prepared statement.
GE has sponsored NBC laughs in the past, recently under some intriguing circumstances. In 2013, the large industrial conglomerate agreed to salute the end of acerbic comedy “30 Rock” – even though the Tina Fey-led sitcom poked fun at GE while it was owner of NBC – and then sponsored an online curation of “favorite moments” from the show.
GE’s fondness for the NBC programs may have roots in other dealings. G.E. agreed to buy at least $59 million worth of advertising per year with NBCUniversal for five years starting in 2012 as a condition of the sale of NBCU to Comcast, according to filings made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in January 2011. As the owner of NBCUniversal, GE had long placed the majority of its advertising on networks owned by the media outlet, and would certainly be free to spend elsewhere now that Comcast owns the Peacock outright.
The sponsorship is certain to put to rest any questions about whether Fallon is open to advertising. In recent years, most of TV’s late-night talking heads have opened their programs to non-traditional commercials, whether they be live spots on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” or a cutaway to an in-program segment for Mazda spotted in a 2006 telecast of CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman.” On TBS, Conan O’Brien has also proven willing to let advertisers into the program.
Fallon has not been shy about working with advertisers on “Late Night,” which he has hosted since March of 2009. He has done work for Oreo cookies, owned by Mondelez International,.
General Electric’s decision to sponsor the Fallon program was reported previously by Broadcasting & Cable