Many TV viewers use commercial breaks to do things like run to the kitchen to make a sandwich. Fox hopes viewers of a revival of the iconic “Rocky Horror Picture Show” this evening will instead stick around and chew on something else.
When Fox shows a retooled version of the 1975 cult favorite Thursday night, viewers might want to think about candy instead of the toast many aficionados of the cult favorite often bring to showings to hurl at the screen. Mars’ Snickers candy bar will have a prominent role in this evening’s proceedings: The chocolate bar, which also contains caramel, nougat and peanuts, will be featured in a two-minute commercial break that depict how the actors and actresses in the production were transformed into the outlandish characters who populate the off-kilter musical comedy.
Metamorphoses of these sorts play off Snickers’ current ad campaign. For the past several years, the candy bar has won notice with commercials from Omnicom Group’s BBDO showing how being hungry turns people into petulant celebrities. Viewers who have followed the campaign in recent months may have noticed commercials featuring pickup football players acting like senior citizens Betty White and Abe Vigoda, or an ad featuring Marilyn Monroe as a cranky Willem Dafoe, upset by the conditions involved in the iconic scene of the 1955 film “The Seven Year Itch.” In both ads and many others like them, Snickers, which manufacturer Mars touts as killing off hunger pangs, saves the day.
The appearance comes in the thick of selling season for Halloween, an important time of year for Mars and rival makers of sweet-tooth products.
No other candy will be advertised during the two-hour event, as Mars was given category exclusivity for its famous sweet. Fox is pushing out 15-second snippets from the two-minute vignette across social-media channels, and Mars is able to repost and share the videos.
The ad pact shows Fox continuing to try to lure advertisers to a new spate of special programming events. In January of this year, the network and Paramount Television placed Coca-Cola signs and trademarks into a live telecast of “Grease.” A vending machine with Coke insignia appeared in the early minutes of the play, while signs festooned with Coke trademarks turned up in a scene set in a diner, where the characters quaffed beverages made by the Atlanta soda company. All the logos and marks were retro, in keeping with “Grease’s” 1950s setting.
At a time when consumers are more prone to avoid ads altogether with the click of a mouse or the touch of a DVR remote, more marketers are trying to craft pitches that enhance the content that brought eyeballs to the screen in the first place. Last year, Fox wove Pepsi into a three-part story arc in its hit drama “Empire” that culminated in a commercial featuring characters from the show depicting the plot’s denouement.Fox has made no secret of its interest to find new ways to work advertisers into programming. In July, the network said it hired Laura Carracioli, a veteran executive with a long history of working to lace advertisers’ products and messages into content, to lead efforts to devise what it called “strategic advertising partnerships” for content ranging from scripted to unscripted and live-event programming.