How Kevin Hart’s Media Company Opens A Door For Advertisers To Reach People In An Ad-Free Environment

Written by Dana Sanchez

In an age when users have gained the power to block ads entirely, advertisers are scrambling to find new ways to reach people.

Audiences want access to an infinite amount of content but aren’t willing to pay much (if anything) for it, Marketing Land reported. “The traditional model has been to provide the content for free but pay for it through forced non-skippable advertising.”

Kevin Hart’s media company, Laugh Out Loud, has brought five original shows to Starz’s TV network and subscription-only digital apps, according to Digiday. With that content comes the opportunity for some advertisers to enter an ad-free environment.

Two of the shows that Laugh Out Loud is syndicating on Starz had presenting sponsors when they originally aired on Laugh Out Loud’s site, app and YouTube channel. “Lyft Legend,” featuring Hart disguised as a Lyft driver, was sponsored by the ride-sharing app. The interview series “Cold as Balls” was sponsored by Old Spice.

These sponsorship deals were specific to each show’s initial distribution, but those deals have carried over to Starz, which otherwise carries no advertising on its TV network or apps, Digiday reported.

ad-free environment
FILE- In this Feb. 28, 2016, file photo, Kevin Hart speaks at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Hart is literally laughing all the way to the bank. The funnyman tops the Forbes magazine list of the highest paid comedians with earnings of $87.5 million. The magazine compiled the estimated income from June 2015 and June 2016. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)


“Opening a door for advertisers to reach people in an ad-free environment could help Laugh Out Loud to earn goodwill from those advertisers and potentially attract others, said Thai Randolph, general manager and executive vice president of Laugh Out Loud.”

It’s similar to the way Anheuser-BuschInBev and Samsung got product-placement deals with “House of Cards” to get in front of Netflix users, Randolph said.

Product placement deals aren’t new in Hollywood. James Bond and Aston Martin are synonymous with each other. Heineken paid $45 million to be James Bond’s drink in the 2012 movie “Skyfall”. And then there was Hershey’s Reese’s Pieces in “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” of 1982, estimated to have increased sales of the candy brand by as much as 300 percent.

Laugh Out Loud had discussions with Starz about the content of its shows to ensure that they wouldn’t be perceived as advertising by the network’s subscribers, Randolph said.

Product placements can backfire too. For example, in an ’80s Supergirl movie, there’s a fight scene where Supergirl gets hurled into an A&W vending machine. When Supergirl first comes to Earth, two sleazy truckers try to rape her, Cracked reported: “Notably, one of the rapists is wearing a damned A&W shirt. Of course, Supergirl kicks his ass and knocks him into a pile of garbage. She doesn’t have time for this; she has a bad movie to get back to. But that’s kind of beside the point. Who at A&W had the idea to cultivate an image as the root beer of filthy sex criminals?”

In the shows that Laugh Out Loud is syndicating on Starz, close-ups of the sponsors’ logos and products appear in the shows, but there are no blatant product pitches, Digiday reported. “And Laugh Out Loud is not getting any extra sponsorship money from the Starz distribution.”