The sprawling NBC-Nissan deal covers branded integration, exposure throughout the competition's Web site, a sweepstakes sponsorship, and placement within spots running on the NBC network to drive consumers to the Web destination.
The multifaceted sponsorship, which Nissan will use to plug its new Versa subcompact model, is an example of the emerging "content-surround" tactic, in which marketers look to follow a show by attaching their brands to its various multiplatform incarnations.
"StarTomorrow" will run exclusively online, with streams available on demand. Each week, videos of band performances will be posted and consumers will cast their votes for which groups should move to the next round. (The show can be accessed via NBC.com or directly at StarTomorrow.com.)
After 14 weeks, the winning band determined by the online voting will receive the opportunity to work on a record with David Foster, the successful producer of such artists as Josh Groban, Celine Dion, and Natalie Cole. (Tommy Mottola was to have worked with the winners on a possible album but backed out due to scheduling issues.)
"StarTomorrow" will receive a promotional boon from an NBC primetime special on July 31 that, in the vein of early-season "American Idol" telecasts, will take a look at the good, bad, and ugly performances during the casting process. The primetime special will direct viewers to the immediate launch of the online voting.
Nissan will have a significant presence on the band performance videos posted each week. In all, 100 bands will be competing. Besides a 15-second "pre-roll" spot, the automaker's logo will become a permanent fixture on set, placed on either side of the stage where the bands jam away.
The Nissan Versa banner and display ads will also appear prominently on the "StarTomorrow" site, along with a "Brought to you buy" marker appearing at the top of the home page. The automaker will also sponsor a contest in which the winner receives a Nissan Versa.
In addition, NBC.com plans to create a Versa Lounge, featuring additional footage of the bands offstage. This site opens up the possibility for Nissan product placement with the performers tooling around in Versas.
If the initiative is a hit, NBC is considering adding an on-air element to a potential second season. Perhaps there would be a weekly "StarTomorrow" show to announce the bands that would be advancing to the next round, but the contest would still be conducted online. Nissan has the right of first refusal to continue as lead sponsor. Agency OMD made the "StarTomorrow" deal with NBC's online sales operation.