You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Turner Uses Funny Or Die Connection To Lure Fiat For New Round Of Advertising

After stuffing an Italian family of three in the backseat of its cars to humorous effect, Fiat is going to introduce a new clan from the land of pasta and espresso – a ploy that executives at Time Warner’s Turner hopes generates interest from a broader set of advertisers.

The new Italians, a husband and wife, appear in a video vignette that launched Friday on FunnyorDie.com, the comedy website in which Turner holds a minority stake and represents exclusively to advertisers.The vignette, one of a series of five, is created by Funny Or Die in an encore of sorts: A bickering Italian family of three lived in the backseat of a suburban American couple’s Fiat last year in a video that garnered over 1 million views.

“We want to give the audience more of what they like, and turn that info a franchise,” said Ed Wise, senior vice president of Turner’s digital ad sales.

Doing so is an important selling point in Turner’s pitch in this year’s “upfront” market, when U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory related to the coming programming season. Turner is making efforts to sell not just TV outlets like TNT and TBS but also a wider array of inventory on digital venues, too. Its relationship with Funny Or Die gives the media company the chance to offer advertisers humorous videos crafted by the same folks who make the rest of the content on the site, as well as promotion of the vignettes on its cable networks.

Sustaining the Italian-family concept also marks something of a new step in the practice of creating advertiser-backed entertainment. In many instances on both TV and digital, the concepts come and then vanish, never to be seen again.

Fiat knew it wanted to expand the idea after seeing reaction to last year’s efforts, said Casey Hurbis, who heads up brand communications for Fiat in North America. But rather than making just one vignette, he said, Fiat wanted to “collaborate and work on an idea and tell maybe more of a story.”

While the videos appear on the site directly as a result of Fiat paying for them, the automaker does not want the pieces to be seen as traditional commercials, the executive said,but rather as part and parcel of the other humorous videos that populate the site. Such thinking is emblematic of advertisers’ interest in an age when consumers have increased ability to avoid or shun old-school advertising, but might be willing to watch something that carries the same aesthetic as the media outlet they turned to for entertainment.

The car marketer’s intentions are likely buoyed by results from last year’s effort: Almost 70% of consumers viewed the entire length of the video. And Funny Or Die users sent an average of more than four minutes on the page featuring the Fiat video, a potential indication they may have watched the video multiple times or re-watched certain parts.
Chris Bruss, vice president of branded entertainment for Funny Or Die, expects more advertiser to seek out longer-term partnerships in an effort to sustain an ad campaign that gains traction. “It’s becoming something where you start seeing a lot more repeat business,” compared with five or six years earlier, when many advertisers simply wanted to “dip a toe In the water.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • AMERICAN HORROR STORY: 1984 -- Pictured:

    'American Horror Story' Recap: Welcome to 'Camp Redwood'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the season premiere of “American Horror Story: 1984” entitled “Camp Redwood.” Welcome back to “American Horror Story,” which in its ninth season travels back in time to the 1970s and 1980s to play in the slasher genre. Only one episode into the season, it already [...]

  • Connie Britton BlogHer Summit

    Connie Britton on ‘Friday Night Lights’ Remake: ‘You Need to Let it Go’

    Connie Britton opened up at a fireside chat Wednesday at the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit in Brooklyn by talking about one of her most beloved roles — Tami Taylor in the fan favorite series “Friday Night Lights.” When asked if a remake of the sports cult film and Emmy-winning TV show is in the works she [...]

  • Bob IgerSimon Weisenthal Gala honoring Bob

    Bob Iger Would Have Combined Disney With Apple if Steve Jobs Were Still Alive

    Disney and Apple are both launching their own streaming services come November, but Disney CEO Bob Iger says the two companies weren’t always on competing paths. In an excerpt from his autobiography published Wednesday in “Vanity Fair,” Iger revealed that Disney and Apple likely would have merged if Steve Jobs hadn’t died in 2011. “I [...]

  • The Mentalist

    #NotWorthLess: 'I Was Great and Deserve to Be Paid the Same'

    Women writers, producers and assistants across Twitter turned the hashtag #NotWorthLess into a trend Wednesday, shining a light on issues of pay inequality in the entertainment business. Sparked by screenwriter Adele Lim’s recent decision to walk away from the “Crazy Rich Asians” sequel in protest of being paid less than her male co-writer, dozens of [...]

  • does self-described "family brands" business Hasbro

    With Hasbro Acquisition, Is eOne Planning to Offload Family-Unfriendly Properties?

    Hasbro’s $4 billion acquisition of eOne in August instantly put the Canadian toy giant in the league of major entertainment and content companies thanks to eOne’s arsenal of IP assets in music, television and film. But does the self-described “family brands” business that’s home to The Game of Life and My Little Pony align with [...]

  • Mariah Carey Tracee Ellis Ross

    Mariah Carey, Tracee Ellis Ross Celebrate Biracial Heritage at “Mixed-ish” Premiere

    Mariah Carey and Tracee Ellis Ross embraced their “ish” at Tuesday night’s series premiere event for ABC’s “Mixed-ish” by reflecting on how their biracial identity makes working on the new show even more personal. “I’m just so thankful that this show exists,” Carey told the assembled crowd during a Q&A with series creator Kenya Barris. [...]

  • THE BACHELORETTE - "The Bachelorette: Season

    'The Bachelor': ABC Reality Boss Talks Ratings Success, Diversity Backlash

    Last night, Peter Weber was unveiled, perhaps unsurprisingly, as the next Bachelor during the season finale of “Bachelor in Paradise.” Weber’s selection coincided with a season-high rating for “Paradise,” and caps a solid ratings summer for the “Bachelor” franchise. As ratings have been in decline across the board this summer, “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content