IFC's happy hours: double of Dewar's

Whisky brand blends with film net as sponsor of Wednesday movie bill

IFC has signed up Dewar's Scotch whisky as the sponsor of its Wednesday night "Back to Basics" double-feature film program, and now the cable channel that boasts of being uncut, uncensored and commercial-free has a brand sponsor for its independent film showings every night of the week.

As part of the Dewar's sponsorship deal, IFC produced a customized and co-branded 45-second opening sequence for its Wednesday night back-to-back indie film series inspired by Dewar's latest advertising campaign of "Dewarisms."

Using a combination of specially created motion graphics, clips from that night's double feature and footage from the new Dewar's ad campaign, the opening sequence will take viewers into a fictional Dewar's-branded vaudeville art house theater. Once inside, the house emcee — a character taken from the Dewar's campaign — will introduce the films using a "Dewarism" like "Don't question your wife's judgment; look who she married," while connecting it to the theme of independent film.

IFC also has created 30- and 60-second promos that will have the same look and feel of the "gateway" sequence, including the Dewar's starring role, to drive viewership on Wednesday nights. Online promotion also is part of the Dewar's deal, with a specially created "Back to Basics" microsite and the IFC home page featuring the Dewar's film strand being presented each Wednesday. IFC said Dewar's was involved with every aspect of the production of its special content.

"As with all of our partners, we are working with Dewar's to strategically integrate their brand into entertaining content that will engage IFC's trendsetting and influential audience," said Alan Klein, senior vp partnerships and licensing at IFC. "With the creation of this new film strand, we are providing a unique sponsorship opportunity for Dewar's as well as an additional revenue stream for the uncut and uncensored network."

IFC insists that its nightly film strand sponsorship deals with Dewar's, Target, Yellow Tail, Salon, Heineken, Skyy Vodka and Acura — as well as the original programming it has produced and aired for such advertisers as Land Rover and Red Bull — do not alter its status as a commercial-free network.

"We have every night sponsored, and yet more people are watching our network than ever before. So we perfected a model that highlights the programming and allows our partners to rub up against it," said Evan Shapiro, GM at IFC, a division of Rainbow Media Holdings. "Our audience is intelligent enough to know (the brand-integrated opening sequences) are ads, but they're also intelligent enough to know they are relevant and entertaining. If we thought we were alienating our audience, we wouldn't do it."

Shapiro said that IFC is different from networks that were creating interstitials and other shortform content for advertisers because it doesn't interrupt the broadcast of its feature films with commercial time, nor does it cut or censor the movies.

"Our partners come to the table. They introduce a film in a relevant way, and then they leave the viewers alone for the rest of the film," he said. "Our viewers like to see their films uncut and uncensored."

Shapiro declined to say how much Dewar's sponsorship cost the brand but said, "Relative to the major campaigns out there, it's a very, very efficient buy."

Dewar's Wednesday night series will feature two independent film classics from IFC's film library with some sort of common theme, beginning with "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" and "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" next week. Other film pairings in the series, which runs through February, include "Garden State" and "House of D," "Mona Lisa" and "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead," and "Amelie" and "Chocolat."