Unilever's mens deodorant brands are sponsoring 20th Century Fox's forthcoming TV drama Touch in a bid to engage consumers by creating a strong, culturally relevant entertainment platform.
From the creators of Heroes, Touch stars Kiefer Sutherland as father to a very gifted son who has the ability to predict the future by connecting the world's invisible patterns. The show's pilot aired in the US yesterday and will premiere in March.
Unilever is activating the global sponsorship deal - which extends to the show's world media tour and premiere on March 18 - in over 100 countries via its regional brands Sure, Degree and Rexona, using bought media and leveraging exclusive content and assets from the show for digital distribution and promotions.
Fox are no strangers to 360 brand activated sponsorship deals of their tent pole TV shows.
Back in 2005, Nissan's 'original drama' ad sponsorship of 20th Century Fox TV's 24 - also starring Kiefer Sutherland – included a partnership which involved the car maker's ads appearing on the 24 DVD box set and a dealership promotion giving away 300,000 24 DVDs for test drive incentives.
Approaching media owners to negotiate a sponsorship association with entertainment properties is certainly one way brands can achieve their objectives. But often, because the media company doesn't actually own the content, brands are then also relying on a third party to negotiate exclusive free assets on their behalf – something a media company isn't familiar with traditionally.
Outside of the core media sponsorship, it's therefore advisable to negotiate with the entertainment property owner directly. But, in order to do that, brands need to know what buttons to press and how to press them, which is where an insider-knowledge of the entertainment industry can come in handy.
For an example of a brand/TV property partnership that brought to life a media sponsorship but circumnavigated the media company, check out the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation activity we negotiated on Kia's behalf.