VH1 is planning to introduce two extensive integrations into the narrative of its improv comedy Free Radio, building customized placement for Burger King and Kia Motors America.
Beginning April 9, the fast-food giant will be featured in four episodes of Free Radio, as part of an execution that will culminate in a sweepstakes giveaway. Burger King first pops up in the second episode of the show’s sophomore season, as Lance, the dimwitted host of the KBOM radio show-within-a-show “Moron in the Morning,” belts out copy for a live read.
“Have it your way,” the disc jockey bellows, before making the assertion that “yelling is the most effective form of radio advertising.”
Later in that same episode, “Moron” co-host Anna sets up the sweepstakes, alerting listeners to log on to kbomsweeps.com for a chance to win a BK Crown Card, which entitles the bearer to $1,000 in free Burger King food every year for 25 years. (The URL will redirect to a special sweepstakes site hosted by VH1.com.)
Burger King will also appear in a scene in which Lance tucks into one of the brand’s breakfast sandwiches while discussing the BK Crown Card with a fellow KBOM employee.
The integration ends May 7, as Lance announces the actual sweepstakes winner during the final episode of the season.
In addition to the call-outs and placement, Burger King will be featured in two VH1-created podbusters that extend the narrative of the show into the commercial break, custom on-air billboards that will drive viewers to the kbombsweeps site and via an exclusive sponsorship of the Free Radio show page on VH1.com.
“It’s great content that fits seamlessly, and let’s face it … our audience knows when someone’s trying to market to them,” said VH1 president Tom Calderone. “It’s a funny spot, it gets the point across and it all adds up to a great integration.”
The deal is a product of a three-way effort by VH1, Burger King and the client’s agency, Mindshare.
“Scripted reality is an interesting approach … and the show is such a good fit for our brand personality,” said Tia Lang, director of media and interactive for Burger King. “It’s irreverent and buzz-worthy, and that gave us the confidence to try it on for size. It’s very much in keeping with our playful approach to advertising.”
Calderone said the podbusting execution represents “the next generation” of VH1’s efforts to beef up its commercial retention rates. Two years ago, the network struggled to keep viewers tuned in during pods, retaining just 87 percent of its audience upon throwing to commercials. In the first quarter of 2009, VH1 held on to 90.1 percent of its audience, per Nielsen NPower comparison of C3 ratings versus live-program ratings.
“We’ll try every angle to get that retention,” Calderone said. “The stickiness is really working for us.”
Meanwhile, Kia will be integrated into the seventh episode of Free Radio, with scripted integration and a :60 podbusting commercial in support of the launch of the new Kia Soul. The Kia storyline revolves around the annual KBOM company picnic, during which contestants vie for a shot at a new Soul in a “Last Hand Standing” giveaway. The contest kicks into comic overdrive courtesy of a guest spot by Fred Willard.
Interpublic’s Initiative is the agency of record for Kia.
Among viewers 18-49, VH1 closed out Q1 ’09 fourteenth among all ad-supported cable nets in prime, averaging 561,000 members of the demo. The network finished seventh among 18-34s, averaging 371,000 viewers.