When Danny Zuko and Sandy get thirsty during Fox’s live January 31 telecast of the musical “Grease,” chances are they will drink Coca-Cola – because that’s the company taking part in a big ad deal to support the program.
Coca-Cola signs and trademarks will appear in various places during Fox’s broadcast of the program. A vending machine with Coke insignia will appear in the opening of the play, while signs festooned with Coke trademarks will show up in a diner scene, during which the characters will consume beverages made by the Atlanta soda giant. All the logos and marks will be appropriate to “Grease’s 1950s milieu, with designs that are decidedly retro.
“Together, Fox, Paramount Television and Coca-Cola will entertain and refresh millions in this weekend’s live performance as music, fashion and pop-culture collide,” said Katie Miller, vice president of connections, Coca-Cola North America, in a statement. “The production will include iconic Coca-Cola signage and performers will ‘Taste the Feeling’ of Coca-Cola on-stage during the show.,” she said, making a reference to a new slogan Coke has unveiled for its flagship product.
In some ways, Coca-Cola is moving from “American Idol” to a classic of American theater. Coca-Cola was a steady presence in the Fox singing-competition juggernaut, with red cups of Coke showing up regularly on the judges’ table in that show. Coke pulled back on its sponsorship of “Idol” at the end of 2014, a signal the series’ maturing status and flagging ratings made it less desirable for a big and costly ad play.
Other advertisers have viewed TV’s growing spate of live broadcasts of Broadway spectaculars as fertile ground. Walmart has used NBC’s telecast of a live versions of “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan” as a place to run commercials tailored to specific segments in the program. Walmart even used music from the plays in the ads, which were designed to air in moments right after the songs had appeared in the productions.
Ad time in the live specials are not cheap: Fox was seeking between $300,000 and $320,000 for a 30-second ad in the live “Grease” telecast, according to media buyers. At that rate, a commercial in “Grease” will cost more than an ad in many of TV’s best known primetime shows.