Edinburgh TV Fest: 'Late Late Show' Producer on Monetizing 'Carpool Karaoke'

Selena Gomez and James Corden carpool karaoke-June 20, 2016 -H 2016
Courtesy of CBS

The show's trip to a McDonald's drive-thru was "incredibly profitable," reveals Ben Winston, though he admits, in the past, hungry host James Corden has given the fast-food outlet plenty of free advertising.

The more than 44 million who have so far watched Selena Gomez' "Carpool Karaoke" session on YouTube may not realize they've been advertised to, but they were.

Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, The Late Late Show's exec producer Ben Winston — who first started working with host James Corden on U.K. TV over a decade ago — discussed monetizing the breakout hit segment, revealing that a deal that saw them use a McDonalds drive-thru was "incredibly profitable" for the show.

"James and I debated it for hours. We made sure it was fundamentally incredibly subtle and that our viewers would not for a second think this was a sponsored bit," he said.  "They drive through, she has a sip of coke, she has some fries, she gets to be on 'Carpool Karaoke' and it's got over 40 million hits and nobody has ever gone, 'Er, was that integration?'"

As part of the deal with McDonalds, the Late Late Show team also managed to have the show printed on "every cup, and French fries [wrapper] and bag for six weeks across the whole of America."

Winston, who was the only Brit in THR's Next Gen 2015 list of up-and-coming execs, added that installing a Bud Light bar in the studio had earned the show money, and that they were considering sponsoring a segment called "Take a Break," in which Corden covers a shift at a random place of work.

"We've had businesses coming to us now and saying, 'Hey James, can you work as an air hostess on this airline,'" he said.

While McDonalds may have paid a significant amount for the Gomez clip, it unwittingly enjoyed free advertising on three different occasions in "Carpool Karaoke."

"When One Direction were in the car, they went to a McDonalds drive-thru, Justin Bieber did a McDonalds drive-thru and Jennifer Hudson even sang her order in a drive-thru," he said. "And they were not integrations in any way, they were just because James was hungry and wanted a snack."