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Sam Ford

This piece was originally published  as part of an entry on January 30, 2008, on the MIT Convergence Culture Consortium Weblog.

After my daily intake of As the World Turns yesterday afternoon, I saw a curious ad, one that prompted me to write this morning.

First of all, I'm one of those timeshifters who doesn't watch the ads...It takes my hour of soap a day down to 30-some minutes, and it gives my wife and I something routine to watch on the DVR while we're having dinner. Generally, as the show ends, and we get a couple of preview teasers from the next episode, I hit stop and delete.

We got a new "all-in-one" remote over the weekend, so it look me a little longer than usual to stop and delete the episode, and I heard a commercial that sounded vaguely familiar. "Six weeks ago, Bob slipped into a coma. Ooh! Now, he's fine, and Chris is the one with a headache." At first, and only half-listening, I thought it was a bizarre start to the commercial, but then I realized that they were talking about Dr. Bob Hughes and his son, Dr. Chris Hughes, characters on ATWT.

The tagline? In that same amount of time, you could have lowered your cholesterol by 4 percent by eating Cheerios.

Turns out, via my friends at Soap Central, that Cheerios has run more than one of these ads, tailor-made for the program they are running them in. Again, considering that it runs specific to the show, and just involves three screen shots and two lines of voiceover, it's a cheap way for brands to advertise in ways that make people seek out the program.

Since that commercial aired yesterday afternoon, 16 users have come on and commented about its cleverness on this one board. The respect and attention Cheerios showed viewers of the show they were advertising in by tailoring a message in a way that indicates they "get it" has even left some viewers regretting they missed the one-time commercial, and one user who usually DVRs said they were going to start scanning for similar commercials before they delete it.

Turns out, Cheerios has run one or two ads like this before for ATWT, as well as Guiding Light (see viewer discussion of the GL spot here, and some viewers reported seeing commercials like this for other daytime shows from the cereal brand. Seems to me to be a clever and relatively cheap commercial to shoot, worth doing for the respect it garners for the viewers of a particular program. When you can deliver your message in a way that makes people want to hear it, then you're not only getting more for your money, but you are also ensuring that you don't waste a customer's time, which I think should be at the top of the list of priorities for any marketer.

This isn't the first time I've commended a company for innovative marketing during one of my soaps. See this post from back in 2005 about a Tyson commercial starring a character from ATWT, Barbara Ryan, with the tagline "Powered by Tyson."

And, as a followup to this post from back in October about significant production changes for the Procter & Gamble shows, see pieces yesterday from Brian Steinberg at Advertising Age and Meg James from The Los Angeles Times about the imminent transition for Guiding Light. Thanks to Joshua Green, Lynn Liccardo, and Geoffrey Long for forwarding these along.

By the way, Cheerios is also advertising for customers to tweak their own ad, adding lines of copy to a pre-made spot for a contest. See more from James Durbin, brought to you by Flektor.


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