Tinker Bell To Shine In Walmart Ads for NBC’s ‘Peter Pan’

Don’t be surprised if elements of “Peter Pan” show up in the commercial breaks during NBC’s live Thursday telecast of the famous 1904 play.

Walmart, which ran ads during NBC’s live broadcast of “The Sound of Music” last year that used songs from the play to make a marketing point, will again serve as lead sponsor of the live event, and will use commercials that echo the action that just took place in the play just before the production cuts to advertising. All five of the spots will also feature Tinker Bell (or, at least, the version of the character being used in the NBC production).

Walmart will have the heaviest presence in what is a sold-out program, said Dan Lovinger, executive vice president of entertainment ad sales at NBCUniversal. “I think that the industry, and certainly America, is really falling in love with concepts like this,” he said. “It’s a great family event. It gives people the opportunity during the holidays to sit down together to watch a show that everyone can be comfortable with.”

Set to air live at 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 4, NBC’s “Peter Pan” production shows the network doubling down on a gambit that worked well last year – and is gaining traction across the TV-scape. Just as Discovery Channel’s recent broadcasts of daredevil Nik Wallenda walking a tightrope over Chicago and in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon have lured viewers, so too has the prospect of seeing up-and-coming celebrities hold forth in the title role of NBC’s theatrical events. Allison Williams will play Peter Pan while Christopher Walken will play Captain Hook.

The network’s live broadcast of “The Sound of Music” attracted more than 18 million viewers. NBC has already unveiled plans to mount a live production of “The Music Man” in 2015.

Demand for the show has been high, as more advertisers demonstrate a craving to link to the growing number of live events TV networks are testing to lure bigger crowds. NBC sought more than $350,000 for a 30-second spot in the show, Lovinger said, confirming a previous report in Variety. He declined to name other advertisers in the event, but said the show had support from the restaurant, electronics, movie-studio and wireless categories.

In five Walmart ads slated to run at specific moments during the program, viewers will see actress Melissa Joan Hart and her actual family in scenes that play off “Peter Pan” moments while also showcasing products available at Walmart.  Hart is currently involved in Walmart’s holiday campaign.

In the first of the spots produced by NBCUniversal, Hart will read a bedtime story to her family as they talk about pajamas (available, as it might happen, for purchase at the large retailer. In a second, the family will play with a Tinkerbell toy and Hart will show her family a “Lost Boys” tree house lit up in the backyard. In a third, Hart’s sons play in the tree house while shouting “Wendy.” In a fourth, Hart’s family sits around the dinner table preparing to make homemade cookies. In the fifth, and last, Hart reads “Peter Pan” to her kids and talks to them about growing up.

NBC was not able to say whether all the Walmart ads will run immediately after the broadcast cuts to an ad break – where they would have the most relevance – or deeper in the mix of promotions that run in each commercial interruption.

The concept sounds easier to put into practice than the idea Walmart used during its 2013 sponsorship of “The Sound of Music.” As part of that effort, NBC produced a series of spots featuring the Brooks family of Gardner, Kansas, which has 12 children. The clan was spotted at various points in the broadcast doing activities to the strains of the popular tunes from the play. Each spot appeared after the song being featured had been sung in the show.

NBCUniversal actually did a four-day talent search for the family that eventually appeared in the ads, which were also produced by the company without the use of an ad agency.

Mediavest, an ad-buying firm that is part of France’s Publicis Groupe, helped Walmart negotiate the price and placement of its “Peter Pan” campaign.

Marketers have shown new interest in crafting commercials for very specific occasions, a reflection, perhaps, of a desire to emulate the content that drew viewers in the first place, instead of interrupting the experience. “Clients in general are getting more and more creative and more demanding to create content that’s relevant and resonates with not only our viewers but their consumers,” said Lovinger.

NBC and Walmart have a history of teaming up for family fare. In 2010, the retailer and Procter & Gamble joined with NBC to create a TV movie, “Secrets of the Mountain,” that aimed to offer an alternative to what the advertisers viewed as an increase in risqué fare on the boob tube. After “Mountain” ran in April, a similar effort, “The Jensen Project,” aired in July of that year. Broadcasts of the films featured both ads from each company as well as placements of their products and logos in the content itself.

Walmart has been spotted sponsoring other pieces of family fare this week. Last night, the retailer had two different commercials run during ABC’s “Toy Story That Time Forgot.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • German Streaming Service Joyn Orders Original

    German Streamer Joyn Moves Into Original Content With Political Thriller 'Dignity'

    Joyn, the new German streaming service backed by local media giant ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery, has ordered its first original series, “Dignity,” a political thriller about the hunt for an ex-Nazi who has set up a cult in Chile. Joyn is a free platform offering live streaming of 55 channels, including German pubcasters ARD and ZDF, [...]

  • Youngest Media, Headed By Ex Endemol

    Youngest Media, Headed By Former Endemol Shine Execs, Launches German Subsidiary

    Youngest Media, the content studio led by former Endemol Shine U.K. executives Lucas Church and David Flynn, has launched a subsidiary in Germany. The German arm, headed by Mark Stehli, has received its first order: a German version of reality series “Battle of the Bands” for channel RTL II. Stehli, who has the title managing [...]

  • Judith Light'Transparent' TV show Musical Finale,

    'Transparent' Team Talks 'Transformative Energy' of Trans Community

    As Amazon Prime Video prepares to send off “Transparent” with a musical finale movie on Sept. 27, the cast and creative team behind the show are hoping the impact of a character such as Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) will not be overshadowed by the controversy that the actor who portrayed Maura caused. “I believe that [...]

  • Cherry Jones

    Cherry Jones Wins 2019 Guest Drama Actress Emmy

    Cherry Jones won the 2019 guest drama actress Emmy for her work as the titular character’s mother, Holly Osborne, in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” This was Jones’ second consecutive nomination for the role but first win. Interestingly, both noms were for her work in the second season of the dystopian streaming series. After a few [...]

  • Jane Lynch, Cyndi Lauper Developing 'Golden

    Jane Lynch, Cyndi Lauper Developing 'Golden Girls'-Style Comedy for Netflix

    Jane Lynch and Cyndi Lauper just wanna have fun. The comedian and the 1980s music icon have joined forces to star in a new comedy project that may be heading to Netflix. Lynch let it slip backstage at the Creative Arts Emmys that she and Lauper will co-star in a comedy that she described as [...]

  • Luke Kirby71st Annual Primetime Creative Arts

    Luke Kirby Wins 2019 Guest Comedy Actor Emmy

    Luke Kirby has been crowned the winner of the 2019 guest comedy actor Emmy for his role as the real-life comic Lenny Bruce on Amazon Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” This was Kirby’s first-ever Emmy attention. He was nominated against a slew of “Saturday Night Live” players (Robert De Niro, John Mulaney and Adam [...]

  • Bradley Whitford photographed at the PMC

    Bradley Whitford Wins 2019 Guest Drama Actor Emmy

    Bradley Whitford won the 2019 guest drama actor Emmy for his role of Commander Joseph Lawrence on Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Whitford joined the cast of the streaming dystopian series at the end of its second season, in episodes that were released after the close of the 2018 Emmy eligibility window. The Television Academy agreed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content