Television variety shows were in their heyday in the 1950s-1970s with programs like The Ed Sullivan Show, The Carol Burnett Show and Donny & Marie. That was a time before cable and digital channels fractured the media landscape. Audience expectations have changed along the way.
Is there a place for variety entertainment in the new landscape?
Stu Newmeyer is convinced there is. Newmeyer is the executive producer and cohost of The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour, which is coming soon to Pop TV. “Classic entertainment formats have been revived and modernized for decades,” he said. “That’s what we are doing in bringing back the beloved variety show and updating it for today.”
George Johnsen designed this eye-popping visual effect for Jennifer Lopez’s performance on American Idol
One way he plans to update the format is with spectacular visual experiences. And he has brought in one of the top digital producers in the entertainment business to lead the way. “We are so excited to announce that George Johnsen will be our visual effects director on the show,” Newmeyer said. “He has done pioneering digital visuals in television, film, theme parks, and concert performances. He will bring a lot of ‘WOW’ to our production.”
Johnsen is the founder of MammothVision, Inc., a groundbreaking digital production company based in Burbank, Calif. He was co-producer of the hit sci-fi TV series Babylon 5, where he set new industry standards in the creative use of digital video and audio in television production. His approach to visual effects on The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour will be to focus on the audience experience.
“We don’t to want start out thinking about which effects we want to use in a show,” he said. “We want to focus on how visual effects will enhance the story and have an impact on the audience.”
Audiences will see most of the visual effects in stage sets and costumes. “You might see singing or dancing acts where we use digital effects and animation to interact with the performers,” Johnsen said. “Or you might see stage sets that envelop the acts in an immersive virtual reality-like production. The visual effects will even extend beyond the stage into the studio audience.”
This video of George Johnsen’s digital production highlights will give you a preview of the visual effects you will see on The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour.
Newmeyer and Johnsen are keen on the prospects for a variety show revival, starting with The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour. “The format, with its short segments and fast pace, is very well suited for how people consume entertainment today,” said Johnsen. “It’s like a live version of the internet.”
Newmeyer agrees. “We are reimagining the visual experience of variety. And we are reimagining how brands interact with TV viewers by integrating brand segments into the flow of the entertainment instead of interrupting them with ads.”
About The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour
The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour is a classic variety show updated for today. Its star-studded family entertainment is designed to bring the generations together. The program features big-name musical guests, sketch comedy, magic acts, spectacular dancing numbers, stand-up, and games and giveaways that appeal to the Boomer and Millennial demographics.
It is also the first television show to completely integrate branded entertainment into the programming to replace TV advertising. Brands can connect with TV viewers in more relevant, meaningful ways through sketches, songs, product placement, demos and other storytelling techniques. For more information on promoting your brand on The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour, contact John Gregory Olson at 888-328-3830.
Media is migrating to digital platforms, and that is a problem for traditional advertisers.
It’s no surprise that people hate the clutter, the hype, and the interruption of advertising. But what has surprised advertisers is the extent to which they will go to block, skip, and avoid them. Digital media has given them more ways to do that.
In the process, it has set a new standard for advertising aversion that affects all media, including television.
People can now skip over commercials in recorded programs on their DVRs. They can enjoy commercial-free programs on subscriptions services like Netflix, HBO, Amazon, and Hulu. Broadcasters and advertisers are feeling the pain.
And brand marketers are facing a dilemma: How do you connect with people who resent the intrusiveness of TV ads, who don’t trust ads, and who actively avoid them?
Some television executives are hoping to find the answer in another trend from the digital media world: sponsored content.
NBC has been the first to dip its toe in the water. In the past year it has featured extended program segments on The Voice, Blindspot, The Today Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers all sponsored by American Express. It is part of a strategy to win back viewers with fewer commercials.
“We see a great challenge, but also a great opportunity to reinvent what the advertising experience can look like in different shows and in different environments,” said Alison Tarrant, EVP for client partnerships at NBCUniversal.
This season Saturday Night Live is part of the NBC sponsored content experiment. It has cut its advertising load 30 percent and offered to partner with advertisers to fill some of the extra time with original branded content. It will be a gradual shift that will happen six times throughout the year on SNL.
Gradual is the operative word for networks flirting with sponsored content. All of these programs will continue to run commercials. Advertisers and TV programmers will have to be more innovative. Instead of reinventing the “advertising experience” they need to reinvent the viewer experience.
Innovative branding meets innovative programming
Stu Newmeyer has a big idea that could blow the lid off of the concept of TV sponsored content. He is president of Variety Entertainment Group, the production company for The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour, which debuts this summer on Pop TV. The program is a family-friendly classic variety show updated for today. And it is perfectly suited for sponsored content.
In fact, the show will have no commercials at all.
Instead it will feature sponsored segments Newmeyer calls SponsorMagic. “Viewers will stay engaged with the sponsor’s message because it is integrated into the show’s entertainment,” he said. “Brand messages take the form of songs, comedy sketches, parodies and other programming that doesn’t interrupt viewers with a commercial.”
Newmeyer believes SponsorMagic is the future of brand-building on TV. Not only will brands be able to associate themselves with the good feelings audiences get from the program, but they will have fresh messaging in each segment of each show, he says. Plus, brands will not have to bear the cost of producing commercials, which can cost more than $300,000 for a 30-second spot.
Viewers will stay engaged with the sponsor’s message because it is integrated into the show’s entertainment.
SponsorMagic partners will also have the opportunity for reach well beyond the broadcast segments. They can reach the show’s audience through cobranding on its website and social media channels, as well as national promotions and non-theatrical screenings.
Brand marketers will also be able to cobrand on the show’s website and social media channels, as well as national PR promotions and non-theatrical screenings. Newmeyer’s vision for sponsored content on TV could revolutionize how brands connect with viewers. TV advertising doesn’t work like it once did. Interrupting people to get their attention only creates negative brand sentiment.
But quality engagement will earn their favor and trust.
About the Stu and Laurie Variety Hour
The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour is a classic variety show updated for today. Its star-studded family entertainment is designed to bring the generations together. The program features big-name musical guests, sketch comedy, spectacular dancing numbers, stand-up, and games and giveaways that appeal to the Boomer and Millennial demographics. It is also the first television show to completely integrate branded entertainment into the programming to replace TV advertising. Brands can connect with TV viewers in more relevant, meaningful ways through sketches, songs, product placement, demos and other storytelling techniques. For more information on promoting your brand on The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour, contact John Gregory Olson at 888-328-3830.