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Nat Geo’s ‘Genius’ Offers Thoughts on How to Surround a Show With New Ad Formats

Albert Einstein is, in his own way, helping to give rise to a new form of TV advertising that has everything to do with a particular TV show but fewer ties to its traditional broadcast.

As part of the launch,of”Genius,” its first scripted series, National Geographic  is working with GSK Consumer Healthcare, part of the large GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical manufacturer, on a companion digital and social initiative that debuts Tuesday evening. After tonight’s episode, fans can check out “Chasing Genius,” an online hub where the 21st Century Fox-owned network will solicit ideas to help solve big challenges facing the world. The three ideas The three ideas that generate the greatest engagement and conversation will be selected for further development, and the individuals who generated those ideas will each be awarded $25,000. Each step will be on display at www.natgeochasinggenius.com and across Nat Geo’s social platforms.

The digital effort springs from “Genius,” which is based on Walter Isaacson’s book “Einstein: His Life and Universe”  and executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.

TV advertisers are putting more thought into how their brands can be part of online activity surrounding TV programs, realizing that fans of the shows are seeking to interact with the content, even when a fresh episode is not broadcasting on the air.”We knew people would be going to explore more about the show online,” said Rachel Baumgarten, a managing director of Content Collective, part of Omnicom Group’s Omnicom Media Group. Earlier this year, Pepsi expanded its association with Fox’s musical drama “Empire” by attaching itself to digital video series that give “Empire” fans more plot and background to the show. Similarly, Honda took part in digital-video content attached to another Fox drama, “Star.”

“Every element and touch point of the Nat Geo brand is pushing out and telling a story,” said Brendan Ripp, executive vice president of brand partnerships at National Geographic.

The deal came together during a special session curated by Omnicom that brings its clients together for special pitches from a range of media outlets. The most recent showcase, dubbed a “Final Front,” included presentations from NBCUniversal, Viacom, Vice, CW, Conde Nast, BuzzFeed, AwesomenessTV, PopSugar, Upworthy and LiveNation. During the proceedings, Grazer  offered a look at the “Chasing Genius” idea, which would use crowdsourcing to gain insights to solve global challenges.

“‘Genius’ is about creativity and imagination rooted in science,” said Theresa Agnew, chief marketing officer U.S. at GSK Consumer Healthcare. “I just thought there was a natural fit there.” PHD, an Omnicom media buying and planning agency that works for GSK, helped put the deal in place.

“The content that surrounds the show is as important as the show itself,” she noted, “but the show is what generates the initial consumer interest.”

As part of the deal,  National Geographic will create promotional videos for GSK Consumer Healthcare products like  Excedrin, Sensodyne and Flonase Sensimist that are creating with the writing team behind “Genius”  and tied to some of the storytelling values of the series.

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