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Craig Ferguson’s New Series is Also a Modern-Day Commercial

Craig Ferguson is taking over the helm of a new talk show that has an intriguing feature – no commercial breaks. That’s because the series is a commercial itself.

U.S. TV viewers will likely recall Ferguson from his tenure on CBS’ “Late Late Show,” where he set himself apart from the pack with a distinctly cerebral monologue. Now he and his wife, Megan Ferguson, will work their brains by seeking out thought leaders such as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and molecular scientist Daisy Robinton to ask them questions about topics that often spur them into debate – including sustainability, success, and other high-minded matters.

They are doing it on behalf of Gant, the Swedish clothes retailer, and how the pair are going to inspire viewers to run out and pick up dress shirts or a sacker-ribbed polo sweater remains to be seen. According to the company’s chief marketing officer, however, Gant won’t achieve its goal by running traditional TV commercials.

“We want to do content that people think is interesting, instead of a commercial that is interrupting what is interesting,” said Eleonore Säll, the company’s global marketing officer, in an interview. “We think our audience will thank us.”

The series, “Couple Thinkers,” will appear in 70 countries via YouTube and other digital venues, with the first episode debuting Monday, October 9.  The six-episode cycle is meant to burnish Gant’s brand credo, “Never Stop Learning.”

Gant’s efforts emulate those of other advertisers, many of who are fast discovering the need for new kinds of promotional programming in an era when viewers are more accustomed to seeing fewer ads accompanying their content.  Nike produced a documentary for National Geographic set to air this week that touts its footwear as it depicts runners trying to finish a marathon in under two hours. Other companies like Apple and AT&T are crafting longer commercials with greater flair and A-list celebrities and then distributing the vignettes online.

The opportunity proved interesting for Ferguson because it offered “the unique opportunity to go straight to the experts in any particular topic we were curious, or, let’s be honest, arguing about,” he said in a statement. “Something I would imagine most couples would be grateful for.”

Gant considered trying to get the series on a traditional TV network, said Säll, but felt it would have to give up control over timing and how the content itself. Talks are already underway, she said, for a second season.

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