By Tim Molloy
“Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” thinks it has a way to make you watch ads: By letting you help create them, then watch them performed live.
Beginning with Thursday's episode, the show will feature live ads based on viewer suggestions. In a promotion with Lexus, called "It's Your Move After Dark," viewers will be invited to suggest ad ideas through social media. Four improv groups will then act some of them out, live, from below the Brooklyn Bridge.
During an early break in the episode, viewers will be asked to submit ideas using the hashtag #LexusIS. The ads are supposed to help build buzz about Lexus' 2014 IS model.
One of the four groups - Fun Young Guys, Magnet Theater Touring Company, MB's Dream and Stone Cold Fox - will then perform ads inspired by the suggestions. Two commercials will air during each of the next four Thursday episodes - one for the Eastern time zone, and one for the Western.
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The ads are an attempt to address one of the biggest problems for broadcasters: how to get viewers — especially younger ones like Fallon viewers — to watch advertising.
NBC made a previous attempt this month by incorporating trivia into ads for “Million Second Quiz.” The show earned fairly low ratings, however.
“These live commercials combine real-time marketing with emerging comedic talent and reflect our commitment to push boundaries with clients by harnessing the power and reach of NBCUniversal’s portfolio and creative expertise,” said Jim Hoffman, executive vice president of NBC’s Universal’s Network Entertainment Sales and Marketing.
"We're always looking for new ways to engage consumers and capture their attention by delivering information in innovative ways," said Brian Bolain, Lexus corporate manager of marketing communications. "By utilizing social and broadcast media simultaneously, 'It's Your Move After Dark' breaks the traditional commercial mold and showcases the all-new IS in an entirely unique and DVR-proof way."
Live ads were fairly common decades ago, when advertisers would use them to demonstrate, for example, how fast Polaroid pictures could develop. That was before advertisers were trying to beat DVR fastforwarding.