FX has sold all of the commercial time in the season premiere of “Rescue Me” to just two advertisers as part of an unusual multimillion-dollar deal with media buying agency MediaCom.
MediaCom clients Volkswagen and Warner Bros. will sponsor the beginning of season four on June 13. Another MediaCom client, Vitaminwater, will be consumed on screen by sweaty firefighters in episodes of the show later in the season.
Advertisers are increasingly interested in sponsorships that involve something other than 30-second commercials, and FX was one of the first channels to have shows sponsored by a single advertiser.
A Volkswagen will also be featured in the series in an unusual example of integration: A fire truck will smash into a VW during an episode later in the season. All four occupants emerge unharmed to demonstrate the safety of the car. One of the firefighters, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, is injured, however.
Most automakers insist that when their models appear on TV, there are to be no crashes and no drinking. But VW has been running ads that show its cars getting into collisions and the passengers emerging safely.
For the premiere, FX has reformatted the show so that Volkswagen gets two minutes of commercial time and Warner Bros. is able to air two-minute trailers for four of its upcoming releases: “License to Wed,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Ocean’s 13” and “No Reservations.”
FX also shot footage at the “Rescue Me” premiere party that features the VW, Warner Bros. and Vitaminwater brands. That footage is being cut into minute-long interstitials that will appear at the beginning and the end of the show and tell viewers that VW and WB are the sponsors.
Michael Brochstein, senior VP for ad sales at FX, said the network is interested in getting more advertisers into its original shows these days, but will sell single sponsorships on occasion.
“One of the things we’re trying to do with the originals is get a great look, and it is a terrific look when you have one or two advertisers,” Mr. Brochstein said. “There’s a little bit more continuity and the advertisers feel they’re getting a whole lot more value.”
“Volkswagen’s always looking for high-quality original programming and ‘Rescue Me’ is a perfect fit,” said Jay Baum, senior VP and managing partner responsible for the VW account at MediaCom. The integration reflects VW’s focus on safety. “It was a really cool and innovative concept that they came up with that really worked well within our strategy,” he said.