Carmaker Does Soft Sell For BET

Adweek: The True Agency has created a 30-minute original program for luxury carmaker Infiniti that features five black artists talking about design without once mentioning the brand.
Nor are there any commercial breaks. Instead, the conversation ends after 25 minutes and segues into images of Infiniti’s various models.
The program, moderated by former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell, will premiere Feb. 9 in prime time on BET and run again a week later.
Original programming is a first for Infiniti, a unit of Nissan that hired True in late 2003 as its first agency dedicated to reaching the black market. The show also breaks new ground for BET, which previously scheduled paid programming only on weekends in the early morning. “If it were a hard sell and something that was clearly commercial … then it would have gotten different placement and different treatment,” said Michael Lewellen, svp of corporate communications at BET in Washington, D.C. “At the end of the day, we felt this is something that our viewers will enjoy seeing.”
Indeed, while Infiniti’s sponsorship will be made clear by the opening credits and a closing sequence, “In Black” will not otherwise be labeled “paid programming,” since it’s not a hard sell, Lewellen said.



About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.