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If you’re already wondering what your preferred beverage should be for your viewing of FOX’s Grease: Live broadcast on Sunday night, FOX and Coca-Cola have come up with a bright idea to help you make your decision. Coca-Cola products will feature largely in the live musical.
According to Variety, FOX, Paramount Television (which is producing the show) and Coca-Cola have joined forces to make sure that the only drink products you’ll see during the broadcast will come from the Atlanta drink maker.
During the show we’ll be treated to 1950s era Coke bottles and advertising emerging throughout the program in various locations around the sets. The actors will also be featured drinking Coke products, and the opening will have a guest appearance from a vending machine festooned with the Coca-Cola logo.
Obviously, this is a brilliant idea. As susceptible as most people are to advertising, a lot of folks will be likely to grab any Coke product they have on hand while watching the program, especially if they witness a true thirst-quenching moment that the cast has after a dance-heavy scene. And, it’s not like this hasn’t been done before, just not to this during-the-actual-show extent.
Other advertisers have taken advantage of the live musical trend to push their products. Walmart, for example, took the opportunity to run program themed commercials during NBC’s The Sound of Music and Peter Pan. The company also used music from the shows in the ads and placed those ads so that the songs had just appeared on the broadcast.
Some people might think that this is a sign that advertising has gone too far, but that’s not necessarily true. Product placement has been a staple of movies and television for many many years. In fact, the live TV shows of the 1950s often had in-show commercials that were presented by the actual hosts or actors in the program. The only thing that’s changed here is that this kind of on-the-nose advertising is something we’re not used to anymore. For decades the advertising was featured as bathroom break time only, and then the ad industry simply got sly with it. Now, they’re willing to put it front and center and be proud of it.
According to industry insiders, FOX was looking for ad rates of up to $320,000 for a 30 second spot during the telecast, making it more expensive than any ad for some of TV’s most popular primetime shows. Considering the ad rate, I’m sure Coca-Cola felt it was better to just see if they could make a deal that would keep everyone in the audience thinking about Coke for the entire show, not just during commercial breaks where the ads would be combined with other products that would dilute the message. And, it looks like they’ve succeeded.
Now all we have to do is watch and see if the product placement gets in the way, or fits like one of the T-Birds' fine leather jackets. Grease: Live airs on Sunday, January 31 at 6 p.m. CST.