×

Microsoft Helps CW Carry ‘All American’ Story Into Commercial Breaks

There’s so much story in the CW’s “All American” that it has spilled out into the show’s commercial breaks.

Over the course of five separate episodes and many weeks, Microsoft has worked with the network to present outside-the-show “story stretches” that add new details to specific plot elements while highlighting the technology giant’s Surface device. The company has also sponsored video extensions and storylines that make their way to Instagramm and other social-media venues.

Coop, the character played by Bre-Z, over the course of several episodes shown in October, November and December, starts to write a song, “You Don’t Ask,” and then works to get it out to the public. But some of the plotline takes place in commercial-break segments and on Instagram, in an effort to give fans of the show more content and more story. The whole thing culminated in a bespoke music video that has been made available on YouTube and other social outlets.

“A lot of partners are like, ‘Here’s my brand. Here’s my product. Figure out a way to work around it,’” she says. Microsoft executives, recalls Barbra Robin, senior vice president of branded entertainment marketing at CW, which is a joint venture of ViacomCBS and AT&T’s WarnerMedia, instead focused on show elements that might work well with the products they hoped to promote.  “They were, ‘Here’s a story that is important to fans. How can we integrate Microsoft into that?’ There are not a lot of brands that allow us to do that.”

The CW has a long history of putting sponsored vignettes in its commercial breaks. In 2006, as it was launching its first season, the network convinced Procter & Gamble to sponsor a mini-magazine about hot trends that played out in the breaks of “America’s Next Top Model.” But getting an advertiser to sponsor scripted vignettes in commercial inventory marks a new step, says Robin.

Advertisers on CW have in recent seasons found some new opportunities that don’t necessarily appear on the network. In 2018, AT&T ran promos on the CW during the Archie Comics-inspired drama “Riverdale” urging viewers to check out postings by one of the series’ characters, Kevin Keller.

At a time when a rising generation of viewers is growing accustomed to seeing few ads on streaming-video hubs – and sometimes none –  getting them to stick around for “a word from our sponsor” has become more challenging. So making the commercials into an extension of the program to which viewers originally tuned is an idea that has gained new traction.

Doing so creates more work for everyone to vet. Each piece of the Coop music story from “All American” was crafted specifically for the media venue on which it would appear, says Robin. “Nothing was re-purposed. It was all unique content for Instagram Story, for a feed,” she says.

More TV

  • Who Died in 'Grey's Anatomy' Season

    How 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Station 19' Approached Its Crossover Death Count

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the “Station 19″/”Grey’s Anatomy” crossover that aired Jan. 23. “Station 19” and “Grey’s Anatomy” kicked off the start of their official combined universe with a two-hour block that began with the third season premiere of the former Shondaland series. In the episode entitled “I [...]

  • An IPad is used instead of

    Following Outrage, Discovery Networks Backs Down on Composer Ultimatum

    Discovery Networks, which last month unveiled a new business model that would have all but assured series composers a drastic income drop, has scuttled that plan in response to outrage expressed by the media music community. This means that the shows on Discovery, Animal Planet, HGTV, Food Network and other Discovery-owned platforms, will continue to [...]

  • THE GOOD PLACE -- "Patty" Episode

    'The Good Place' Boss on Reaching the Titular Location, Finding It's a 'Bummer'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Patty,” the penultimate episode of “The Good Place.” The titular good place on Mike Schur’s philosophical comedy “The Good Place” isn’t a literal place at all but instead a state of mind. Sure, after four seasons (50 episodes) the characters on the show did [...]

  • obi wan ewan mcgregor

    Obi-Wan Kenobi Series at Disney Plus Loses Writer, Seeks to Overhaul Scripts

    Pre-production on the Obi-Wan Kenobi-focused TV series in the works at Disney Plus has been put on hold as the streamer and Lucasfilm look to overhaul early scripts and find new writers, sources tell Variety. Hossein Amini had been attached to write. The news follows recent talk that the entire series was being scrapped altogether. [...]

  • Zion Williamson

    Zion Williamson's Pelicans Debut Is a Ratings Slam Dunk

    With ratings in a slump so far this season, the NBA has needed someone to come off the bench and ball out. Cue the New Orleans Pelicans debut of Zion Williamson. The much-heralded number 1 pick from the 2019 draft had sat out the first 44 games of the Pelicans’ season with a knee injury, [...]

  • RuPauls Drag Race

    TV News Roundup: VH1 Announces 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 12 Contestants

    In today’s TV news roundup, VH1 revealed the contestants for the upcoming season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and the Oprah Winfrey Network renewed several of its unscripted series. CASTING VH1 revealed the 13 queens that will be competing on the 12th season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” are Aidenn Zhane, Bria, Crystal Methyd, Dahlia Sin, Gigi [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content