Stop Fast-Forwarding!

I was recently watching Heroes on NBC (one of my favorite prime-time adventures) when suddenly I shouted to my wife (who controls the remote) “stop fast forwarding!”

In my house we DVR everything. The time when most families are comfortable on the couch watching prime-time TV is usually the same time I am staring at pixels on my Mac. DVR allows me to watch TV on my time. Digital recording is a growing trend. Its convenience and flexibility is beneficial to the viewer, however its not so good for the advertisers who get their ad space muted and hurried at the push of a button.

Back to Heroes: This week NBC slipped in a dramatized commercial that flowed seamlessly from the actual show to the part we typically skip forward, the commercials. The ad for Sprint Nextel Corp. featured two new characters to the Heroes season that were in character.

My wife was hot on the “>>” button after witnessing a slight pause, where I recognized the characters and nearly confiscated her of the remote. Sprint was able to get our attention long enough to question the situation (perhaps even smarter since I am writing this article).

Furthermore, these dramatized ads are taking on a whole new life through mini-series sponsorships. Its actually quite creative. Advertisers use the very characters you enjoy watching by mixing in their own message in a new side-show.

NBC’s Heroes is not the only one jumping on this new trend, in a “mini-mystery” called “Another Desperate Housewife,” a charactor from ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” suspects her husband is cheating after checking his new Sprint phone. Next, a voice-over adds in a product specific message for the carrier.

Denise Ocasio from MindShare, the marketing firm that helped Sprint create the ground-breaking spots for ABC and NBC says “It looks and feels and has all the drama and excitement of the show. It is an entertainment experience. It’s just brought to you by Sprint.”

What do you think, is it creative marketing or just a new challenge for your remote ?