This historical fact brought to you by Hyundai
By Andrew Hampp
November 15, 2007
NEW YORK -- Since you can't exactly rewrite them,
historical events are hard to merge seamlessly with
branded entertainment. But the marketing teams at the
History Channel and Hyundai have teamed up for a major
multiplatform initiative that will not only get the
automaker brand placement on the network every day of
the year in 2008, but in every eighth-grade history
classroom in public schools across the country as well.
The pairing is for "This Day in History," a series of
30-second spots co-branded by Hyundai that began airing
daily on History Channel last week, as well as on the
program's micro-site on History.com and via mobile
messaging through a "This Day" WAP site.
The project will also be shipped out to public schools
at the beginning of the year in the form of "This Day in
History: Classroom in a Box," which will include a
teacher's guide, student posters, DVD and other study
materials provided by Hyundai.
A shout-out from teachers
Libby O'Connell, senior VP-corporate outreach and chief
historian for A&E Television Networks, said, "Now we can
tell teachers, 'Here's some ways to use short-form pods
in your classroom,' and they have been proud to say, 'We
want to give an extra thank you to Hyundai for making it
possible,' because they know without that sponsor they
wouldn't be able to pay for the materials."
But what's really driving the Hyundai initiative is the
need for History to take a more meaningful stance on
commercial engagement. In the first round of Nielsen's
C3 data for broadcast and cable, the channel scored an
average commercial retention of about 90% during breaks
-- better than the MTV entertainment networks and even
FX, but enough of a gap left to capitalize on keeping
the attention of its increasingly young male viewership.
(C3 refers to the new ratings data that measures
commercial breaks when watched either live or over the
course of three days after a show's original broadcast.)
Amy Baker, senior VP-ad sales, History Channel, said the
results of several IAG engagement studies with Hyundai's
first round of "This Day" spots showed a 14% brand
recall, something the network wanted to guarantee to an
even larger extent this year for both Hyundai and its
incumbent agency, Carat Fusion.
"If we were going to continue to produce so much new
material, we wanted it to exist in as many places as it
could," she said. "We were able to command everybody and
rally together every discipline in the room to say, 'How
can we make a piece of content come alive for an
Improving digital expertise
Executing deals with so many moving parts might have
seemed a lot more labor intensive as recently as a year
or two ago, when the agencies were still getting their
digital teams staffed to handle them. But the TV side
had to catch up too. Lori Greene, VP-digital media for
History, said prior to the Hyundai deal, most marketers
were typically signing up for stand-alone pieces online.
"Most of their partnerships were very show-based, the
low-hanging fruit shows that are easy to get in and out
of," she said.
Hyundai gets its own micro-site and mini-game on
History.com, something the channel is ready to
accommodate more often. "Now we're able to integrate
brands really well and still make it unique to wherever
you're experiencing the brand," Ms. Greene said.
Beyond Hyundai, Ms. Baker said the sales group has
already started looking into similar deals with 10
clients a year as it begins to make branded
entertainment and cross-platform integrations a regular
part of its business strategy. "The big learning here is
we have to be so creative on how to handle our pods."
That requires fresh content and willingness to do things
the network has never done before, like programming in
commercial time with 30 seconds of content and 30
seconds of creative, she said. "We do realize we can't
partner with just anybody, but when we do we want it to