Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jay Leno: He's "advertiser friendly"

If you're a regular viewer of "Jimmy Kimmel Live," you've no doubt seen the live commercials that usually kick off the show. For the past year, Jimmy and his cohorts Uncle Frank and Guillermo have been shilling for Subway, Chili's, Arby's, cell phones, cameras, and various movies and video games. Most of the ads aren't particularly entertaining, and we usually hit the fast-forward button, but there were a couple spots that not only had us paying attention, but laughing. Those were the commercials for K-Y's new "Yours+Mine personal lubricant for couples" featuring Uncle Frank and his long-suffering ex-wife, Aunt Chippy, in bed. They should all be that good.

Kimmel seems to have taken enthusiastically to the live commercials, which were an established part of the TV landscape in the early days of the medium. Johnny Carson did them early on but apparently disdained them, and David Letterman hated them -- we have a vague memory of Dave, way back in the "Late Night" days, battling with NBC over doing live ads; once he put up a cardboard cut-out of himself and had a voice-over read the pitch. After that, they never seemed to be an issue again. Anyone else remember that? "The Larry Sanders Show" spoofed hosts' reluctance to pitch products in its debut episode, which involved Larry and sidekick Hank Kingsley doing a spot for the Garden Weasel.

The always eager-to-please Jay Leno will apparently be doing live ads on his new 10 PM show, according to Ad Age. "While buyers don't expect the program to garner the same ratings a scripted drama would, NBC is countering by making Mr. Leno more available for specialized marketing programs. Mr. Leno is 'advertiser friendly,' said [Mike] Pilot," president of sales and marketing for NBC Universal. "'He's not afraid to experiment with live commercials and with sponsorships.'"

Kimmel's young demographic of viewers means the show gets a steady stream of fast food and action movie promos, but Leno is expected to attract an older audience, so he'll probably be shilling for more boomer-friendly products.