Social media appears to have brought us full circle. In the early days of television, nearly all the advertisements were live. Then taping became the main method. But as recent technologies have made it easy for viewers to speed past or completely skip the advertising messages, some marketers are revisiting the idea of live advertising.
This isn’t the same old notion though. By recombining an idea from broadcast media with new functionalities enabled by social media, marketers seek to ensure that viewers are not only interested in the new content but even might determine it.
Thus, Lexus has designed a program, “It’s Your Move After Dark,” that will run on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon over the course of four weeks. During the first commercial break on each Thursday’s show, a Lexus advertisement will prominently display a hashtag. By linking to it, viewers can submit their ideas for commercials. Then in a later break during the same show, an improvisational comedy troupe will act out the chosen ideas. The acting troupes are all from New York and are known for their comedy. Their presentations will take place under the Brooklyn Bridge, adding to the vibrancy and reality of the setting.
To appeal to the widest audience of Fallon fans possible, separate advertisements will be chosen and enacted for the East and West Coast broadcasts. The submissions also can come through various media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Such ready access, real-time interactivity, and potential influence—together with the promise of funny, totally new advertising content and perhaps even a live, on-air goof—hold great promise that Fallon’s youthful audience will want to tune in to the commercials, as much as they do to the show.
The setting seems well suited to such an experiment. Fallon first gained fame as a member of Saturday Night Live, perhaps the most well-known live show on television. He also gained popularity largely because of his frequent inability to get through a scene without starting to laugh at the antics of his castmates—a seeming mistake that viewers nearly always love to see.
Sources: Stuart Elliot, “Live Commercials Coming to ‘Late Night’,” The New York Times, September 18, 2013; Jeanine Poggi, “Lexus to Air Live Ads, Fueled by Social Suggestions, During NBC’s ‘Late Night’,” Advertising Age, September 18, 2013