Commentary

PSAs Engage, Stakes Raised When Content Relates To Actual TV Viewing

I saw a nasty FIS World Cup skiing accident on the NBCSN sports cable network while I was grinding a big gear on a stationary bike at the gym.

The skier, during the recent Men’s Downhill event in Beaver Creek, Colorado, didn’t get up. He struggled, clutching his leg. I watched intensely, hoping he’d get up and move -- or something positive.

Finally, an official lumbered over to him and then NBC quickly went to a commercial break.

The first image was a black screen with the message about how America needs to face “a real opioid detox” -- a commercial that addresses major opioid concerns that can occur after an injury. The ending message said: “Opioid dependence can happen after just five days.”

The spot showed a woman named Rebekkah in a storefront-like window trying to sleep -- tossing, agonizing as she tried to cope with what we can assume was some massive effects and withdrawal. The ad was a public service announcement from the Ad Council.

Then I thought about the skier. Thought about the pain. Is this what big TV marketers mean about “engagement”?  Yes... and no. No way was this planned. But there was a connection for viewers -- a reference to the dangers of sports, where injuries and medications are a fact of life.

Media and marketing executives will vigorously dispute the idea that TV viewers don’t want to see advertising. They argue they just haven’t gotten the right messaging at the right time. Content marketing might be one word for it, but perhaps this is not exactly the way it was dreamed up.

There are more positive connections to consider.

Marketer will talk up engaging, call-to-action advertising. But can you really get to this deep engagement?

Over the past month, “The Truth about Opioids” campaign featured a number of different personal stories about opioids, some seven different executions. Since June, this has totaled around 300 million impressions, according to iSpot.tv.

More messaging connections -- intended or otherwise  -- are coming, as well as lessons to be learned.

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