Jewel Can’t Drive 55

USA Today looks at one of my favorite topics—the explosion of content solutions brought to client tables by agencies.

Gillette is producing an ABC prime-time reality series starring the group of NASCAR drivers — dubbed the “Young Guns” — who are featured in its TV ads and online. Gillette is a NASCAR sponsor for each driver and his race team.
Gillette’s ad agency, BBDO New York, came up with the idea for a reality show in which the pro drivers would teach celebrities how to race cars. The result: Fast Cars and Superstars: Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race, in which stars such as William Shatner and Jewel will compete in time-trial driving tests. The program will begin June 7 at 8 p.m.
“We’re seeing a blurring between advertising and entertainment,” says Steve Fund, Gillette marketing director. “It’s a new business model.”

Other brand-owned content plays mentioned in the piece:

  • To promote Snake Peel Shower Scrub, Axe and ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty created a half-hour special for Spike TV called Exposing The Order of The Serpentine.
  • Ad agency Cramer-Krasselt produced its Ultimate Playground powered by Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), a 10-part ESPN2 adventure series featuring BRP boats, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles.
  • Toyota and its agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles created a one-hour Speed channel special Two Roads to Baja.
About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. theo kie says:

    A question to mull over. These shows provide not only a new outlet for client branding. They also represent a potential new profit center for these clients (network money; sales of branded goods such as t-shirts, DVDs, etc.).
    Should the agencies – and creative teams – who come up such programs be paid on a different basis than they currently are? Should we dip into the new profit stream? What might the creative teams who created these programs have made if they were shopping it to a network, and the network then approached the client sponsors?
    As we do more for clients, shouldn’t clients provide more for us? Or is that too radical a way of thinking about marketing in this new day and age?

  2. I think nothing’s “too radical” if it ultimately adds value to the brands in our charge. Hollywood writers get paid an astronomical sum to come up with crappy TV. If ad people end up doing it better, or even as well, the money will follow.
    Another interesting twist to this is the fact that studios and producers might start hiring agencies to concept and deliver programming.
    Agencies are providers of creative services. There’s no reason to limit our offerings to packaged goods companies and the like.

  3. Teaching a D-grade celebrity to drive a racing car is like teaching a chicken to bark like a dog, except that the latter would be more entertaining.

  4. I applaud these efforts (along with Axe’s Gamekillers MTV show), however, I’d like to point out one thing: it’s not really new.
    This Old House/Craftsman tools anyone?

  5. guynamedme says:

    “We’re seeing a blurring between advertising and entertainment,” “It’s a new business model.”
    Or one of the very same models that begat the advertising industry as we know it back in the day.
    It may not be sexy or revolutionary to admit it, but most of this stuff is only “new” to those who assume that Advertising has always been practiced exactly as its been done for the last 30 years or so. Obviously, it hasn’t. Try Stephen Fox’s excellent book “The Mirror Makers” for a bit of perspective. You might be surprised to learn how many so-called new ideas about content generation/entertaining/earning your audience/etc. are, in fact, as old as the hills.
    The book’s a great read, even for those who’ll inevitably still insist that their kind of “new” really is “new.”

  6. I agree. There’s nothing new here. Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, starting airing in 1963. What we’re seeing is a resurgence.

  7. Harken even further to the Texaco radio show, and we can credit advertising (and Milton Berle) with inventing not just TV shows, but television itself!
    Truly, we are a wonder to behold. Next I predict we will invent entire MOVIES just to push product (gasp).
    … Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I’m lookin’ at you …