The newest commercial fordressing will appear not only in a commercial break during Thursday night’s broadcast of the program, but in the show itself. Romany Malco’s character Rome Howard will be seen pitching the new spot – designed by real-life ad agency McGarryBowen – to a group of clients in a conference room in a scene within a segment of the program. A full-length airing of the commercial takes place in an ad break following that part of the episode.
The condiment’s cameo is the latest in a widening series of aggressive program integrations Disney has backed over the past few TV seasons. A year ago, Disney struck an advertising pact with Procter & Gamble allowing the talking points of a campaign aimed at African-American consumers to appear in a scene during ABC’s “black-ish.” A marketing agreement with Mitsubishi set up its Eclipse vehicle as the exclusive sponsor of ABC News’ coverage in August of 2017 of a total solar eclipse.
“Hidden Valley Ranch’s launch of their new brand campaign in ‘A Million Little Things’ showcases how we seamlessly elevate brands while staying authentic to the series, story, and, our viewers,” said Patricia Betron, senior vice president of consumer packaged goods at Disney Advertising Sales, in a prepared statement. She said Disney and Clorox Co., which owns the Hidden Valley brand, have a “longstanding relationship” that involves weaving its products into programming where appropriate.
Producers were keen to make sure the appearance of the product felt natural, said DJ Nash, the series’ creator and executive producer, in a statement. “At ‘A Million Little Things,’ authenticity is everything,” he said. Ashley Sims, the writer behind the episode, is actually a fan of ranch dressing.
ABC said it is seeing high demand from advertisers for the freshman drama, which centers on a tight-knit group of friends who are rocked by one member’s decision to commit suicide. The network has typically not worked to have many product integrations in a series’ first year on air, but is seeing a new appetite from marketers for new programs.
Zach Braff, known for his work on the series “Scrubs” and the movie “Garden State,” narrates and directed the commercial. “This work rips back the curtain on the love that people have for Hidden Valley Ranch in a way that is bold, provocative and, I think, damn funny.” said Kurt Fries, chief creative officer of the Chicago office of McGarryBowen, in a statement.
Other networks have arranged deeper ties between advertisers and drama series that play on emotions. State Farm Insurance recently kicked off its second year of an association with NBC’s “This Is Us,” which involves the creation of promotional vignettes crafted expressly to appear during three specific episodes of the fan-favorite series.