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From 8 to 11 ET on Sunday, NBC will show the movie National Treasure, and all 35 or so minutes of commercials will be for the TurboTax online tax preparation software from Intuit. TurboTax will offer regular ad spots along with special spots, in which three teams compete for a chance to win $50,000 for charity, designed as a reality “show within the show.”
The teams were led by singer Brandy Norwood, actress Lisa Rinna and NBC Sports analyst Jeremy Roenick.
Viewers will be able to play along at nbc.com/turbotax and can win $25,000 and other prizes.
The experiment comes as marketers have looked for new ways to reach viewers in the digital age and amid questions about the effectiveness of traditional 30-second spots on TV. It is a throw-back to the days when
primetime shows were “brought to you by” single advertisers. Examples included the Colgate Comedy Hour and Texaco Star Theater.
According to the Times, for the last three years, NBC Universal has created customized ads for TurboTax that feature stars of series on NBC and NBC Uni cable channels such as Bravo, Oxygen and Syfy.
“We’re really taking a risk, owning 30-plus minutes on a Sunday night,” said Seth Greenberg, vp for global media and digital marketing at Intuit in San Diego. “But it’s a risk we decided to take,” because it should “resonate a heck of a lot better than a normal night of commercials.”
“It’s not about buying 30s,” said Tim Spengler, president for North America at Intuit’s media agency Initiative. “What we want to do is break through.”
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Thomas Brodie Sangster