×

CNN Prescribes New Eli Lilly Commercials For Glen Campbell Documentary

CNN has a new advertising prescription: Take a documentary about a music star afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and mix it with a pharmaceutical sponsor that wants consumers to recognize its efforts to find a cure for the devastating ailment.

When the Time Warner-owned cable-news network airs “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me,” on Sunday, June 28, it will do so under very rare circumstances. The movie looks at singer Glen Campbell, best known for songs like “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Gentle on My Mind,” and his struggle with the ravages of the disease. It will air with only a limited number of commercials, marking the first time CNN has ever aired a film in that fashion (though it has done similar things for select series and special reports). Pitches tied to Eli Lilly & Co.’s efforts to find a cure for the problem will appear just before the film starts, at one point in the middle of the documentary, and then just after it ends.

Watching the documentary is bound to be an emotional experience for someone who has a friend or family member who suffers from the disease, said Phyllis Barkman Ferrell, Eli Lilly’s global Alzheimer’s disease team leader. “We don’t want it to feel like a pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer advertisement,” she said, adding: “We didn’t want to have that emotional experience interrupted.”

The deal is the latest by CNN that attempts to create very unique kinds of advertising tied directly to a specific piece of programming. In March of last year, the network enlisted Allstate to serve as a “presenting sponsor” of the eight-part series “Chicagoland.” In the first ad break of the first episode, Tom Wilson, Allstate’s chairman, president and CEO, appeared and spoke directly to viewers about the show.

Such commercials likely could not appear in another program or on another network and be as relevant or effective. CNN wants to attract more “bespoke content and sponsorships,” said Katrina Cukaj, executive vice president of advertising sales for CNN.

As part of the pact, Lilly is taking part in “tune in” promotional efforts to get viewers to watch the documentary. CNN promos that began running this week prod viewers to visit a digital site devoted to “I’ll Be Me,” where CNN health journalists are posting content about Alzheimer’s. The site will soon feature only ads from Eli Lilly, which also is offering sponsored content. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, appears in some of the promos.

Eli Lilly will not tout any specific medications in the three commercials it runs June 28, said Ferrell. Instead, the company is eager to develop a community of people interested in the disease while highlighting the importance of checking with doctors when potential symptoms surface and of taking part in clinical trials that aim to treat Alzheimer’s. Such marketing techniques are often tapped by pharmaceutical companies to get people interested in medications they may have to offer at a later date.

“We want this to be our gift to patients and people suffering from this disease,” said Ferrell. “We are not asking something of them. We are trying to give something to them.”

The three ads shown during the documentary will include a 30-second spot featuring Eli Lilly CEO John C. Lechleiter talking about why the company is sponsoring the movie; a 30-second spot that pushes viewers to visit a Web page devoted to the film; and a 75-second public service announcement from Ron Peterson, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, discussing new developments in research. Lilly worked with Omnicom Group’s OMD to place the commercials while Interpublic Group’s FCB helped craft some of the ads.

The three ads will also run in a second airing of the documentary on CNN in November, but the program will be accompanied by a more typical load of commercials.

More TV

  • "Raven's Home" Executive Producer, Eunetta Boone.

    Eunetta Boone, Showrunner and Creator of 'One on One,' Dies at 63

    Writer-producer Eunetta Boone, creator of the UPN comedy “One on One” and showrunner of Disney Channel’s “Raven’s Home,” died Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 63. Boone was found dead at her home of an apparent heart attack. Boone had most recently worked as showrunner on the third season of the Disney [...]

  • Global Sales for ‘Les Miserables’ Series

    Global Sales for ‘Les Miserables’ Starring Dominic West Ahead of Series Mania

    The BBC and Masterpiece adaptation of “Les Miserables” will play on a numerous international channels after a raft of deals were sealed for the series, which features Dominic West, David Oyelowo, and Lily Collins. Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic has been acquired by broadcasters in Scandinavia and southern Europe, and by several buyers [...]

  • Kevin Hart

    TV News Roundup: Kevin Hart Netflix Comedy Special Drops First Trailer

    In today’s roundup, Netflix releases the official trailer for the comedy special “Kevin Hart: Irresponsible” and Josh Charles joins Showtime’s Roger Ailes series “The Loudest Voice.” DATES Season two of “Yellowstone,” starring Kevin Costner, will premiere on Paramount Network on June 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The sophomore season will continue the story of rancher John Dutton [...]

  • adidas game of thrones

    5 New 'Game of Thrones' Collaborations Coming in Time for the Final Season

    Some of the biggest lifestyle brands in the world are jumping on the “Game of Thrones” bandwagon this spring, hoping to capitalize on the fandom and popularity of the HBO hit, as it enters its eighth and final season. From sneakers to spirits, these officially-licensed collaborations extend the characters and colors of the show beyond [...]

  • Nicole Richie

    Nicole Richie Joins Fox Comedy Pilot 'Richard Lovely'

    Nicole Richie has been cast in a series regular role in the Fox single-cam comedy pilot “Richard Lovely.” The project follows Richard Lovely (Thomas Lennon), the disgruntled author of the best-selling children’s book series, “Mr. Mouse.” He doesn’t hate children, but rather just everything about them. After a publicity fiasco involving an unexpectedly savvy 9-year-old [...]

  • Gabrielle Union Marketing Summit

    Gabrielle Union on Building a Brand as a ‘40-Year-Old Black Woman From Nebraska’

    When New York & Company approached Gabrielle Union to be their new brand ambassador and the face of her own clothing line, the actress reacted with “disbelief.” “We are not supposed to be getting those offers, I’m not supposed to be having a career resurgence, my value isn’t supposed to be this high,” Union explained [...]

  • Lachlan Murdoch

    New Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch Announces All Employees to Receive Stock in Company

    The new standalone entity Fox Corp. held a town hall on Thursday, just over a day after the official closing of the 21st Century Fox-Disney merger. Fox Corp. chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch led the meeting, at which sources say he announced that all employees would receive stock in the new company. The amount of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content