Guidestones serves a slice of Pizza Pizza branding
The web series' producer Jay Ferguson says that brand integration in web-based content is less disruptive for viewers, and beneficial for brands to track consumption.
Pizza is typically a food of choice for budget-friendly students.
So it seems logical that web series Guidestones has turned to Pizza Pizza for a product integration that has its university-attending characters chowing down while on-the-go investigating a murder conspiracy.
Future webisodes on the show will feature the Pizza Pizza logo, packaging and its retail outlets weaved into the storyline as part of the partnership.
The brand and show have also launched a “Pizza Pizza Insider” online contest where viewers can score points by entering serial codes hidden throughout episodes on the microsite or on the Android app. In exchange for their participation they are automatically entered into a random draw for a year of free pizza.
The 50-episode series, produced by iThentic and 3 o’clock.tv launched in February, and allows viewers to participate in the murder mystery by doing an online search for serial numbers that air during each episode.
To date, 5,000 viewers have registered to receive the episodes via e-mail as the story unfolds in real-time.
Jay Ferguson, Guidestones producer and director, says that brands are particularly interested in playing a part in web-based content because of the ability to track consumption as it happens and for how long.
The traditional placement of unrelated commercials within a show doesn’t bode well with viewers anymore, he says, and things are different now that media use is increasingly taking place online.
“More and more audiences are expecting their media to come without cost,” he says. “I believe that going forward media producers have to be savvy in terms of how they finance [content]. It’s important for us to be able to bring brands on board and integrate their products into the content so that it’s as seamless and creative as possible.”
And Ferguson’s creative thinking is to orchestrate brand integrations that fit with the plot of the show, using its Toronto Blue Jays partnership as a prime example. He says that in the series the male protagonist is shown to be a big Blue Jays fan, taking the viewers back to a time when he would watch the baseball team play against the Atlanta Braves for the World Series as a young boy.
Other brands incorporated into the show include Karbon Clothing, with the characters wearing the brand’s clothing and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab smartphone being used to scan QR codes and search for clues, much like how “Sherlock Holmes uses his spy glass” to solve mysteries, Ferguson says.
While the show was made with the 18 to 35 demographic in mind, Ferguson says that he has seen a surprisingly high percentage of youth catch onto the show.
“We’ve found that we are reaching a teen audience, they love the interactivity of the show and the fact that you can Google, search what you see on the show and it takes you somewhere. It was unexpected audience, but it does well with our Pizza Pizza branding.”