In these days of ad-skipping, program integration has become the go-to way to get a product on television. In a similar vein, AT&T is using the CW television series "Melrose Place" to help spread its public service message about the dangers of texting and driving.
On the March 30 episode of the show, one of the characters, Ella Simms, tells her love interest, Jonah Miller, that she intended to text him about a plot point on the show, but that she "gave up texting and driving." In addition, the two actors playing the characters (Katie Cassidy and Michael Rady) will appear in a public service announcement that references the in-show mention and illuminates the dangers of texting and driving.
"We have a particular interest in reaching the youth demographic, as they tend to rely on texting as their dominant form of communication and are often new drivers," Chris Schembri, vice president of media services at AT&T, tells Marketing Daily. "AT&T has an existing relationship with The CW and 'Melrose Place' via [traditional] advertising. As such, we leveraged this relationship to reach the network's core youth demographic."
The PSA, which is posted on www.cwtv.com and various AT&T properties and social media channels, also encourages viewers to visit the company's Facebook page to sign an online pledge not to text and drive.
The initiative is part of a larger campaign that AT&T began earlier this month with the theme "It Can Wait." In addition to the "Melrose Place" integration, the campaign also includes print, radio, TV and online advertising that features the true stories and text messages that were sent or received before a person's life was altered (or, in some cases, ended).
Schembri would not comment about other possible integration into program story lines, but said the company is "dedicated to educating the public about the risks of texting while driving."
"We hope to reach millions through a variety of touchpoints including handset messaging, an awareness-focused advertising campaign, employee education, an online resource center and customer communications -- including catalogs, in-store signage and collateral, bills, e-mails, opt-in text messages, AT&T U-verse TV channels and newsletters," Schembri says.