NBC Tries New Approach With Ad For Kevin Hart Movie. The Results Are Promising

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Kevin Hart, a cast member, producer and co-writer of “Night School,” poses at the premiere of the film, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

TV commercials have traditionally been bought and sold based on audience ratings, but a different kind of deal based on ticket sales, not viewers, could signal a new direction for the $60 billion TV ad industry, Bloomberg reported.

When filmmaker STX Entertainment wanted to advertise its movie “The Upside” starring Kevin Hart, NBCUniversal pitched a radical idea. The TV mega company promised the commercials would bring a certain number of ticket sales.

NBCUniversal has been among the loudest voices calling for a new approach to the metrics used in advertising transactions, according to AdWeek.

NBCUniversal guaranteed STX’s media investment for its ad buy for “The Upside” based on ticket sales instead of the typical age/gender Nielsen data.


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The film debuted in January. The ad campaign was a first in the
fragmenting video industry, which has been hit hard as Google and Facebook use the data they gather on consumers to take billions of ad dollars from print, radio and TV.

Ratings guarantees and legacy metrics are part of a world that doesn’t exist anymore,” said Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal chairwoman of advertising and client partnerships in a Bloomberg interview. “Consumer behavior has changed and that has created a need to measure what’s important.”

A division of Comcast, NBCUniversal is backed by the internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. NBCUniversal plans to make more deals like the one with STX, such as promising automakers that their commercials will result in a certain number of car sales, Yaccarino said. If the ads don’t deliver, sponsors will get free time on NBC channels, just as they do when ratings fall short of what’s promised.

The “The Upside” ad campaign started in December. It’s about a friendship between a rich quadriplegic and his caregiver. It was the top-grossing film on its opening weekend with $20.4 million in ticket sales, and has done $88.607 million domestically as of Feb. 14.