In a Sponsored TV Show, ‘H’ Is for Hispanic … and Heineken
By Stuart Elliott
A cable channel devoted to Hispanic viewers is scheduled to present a special show on Saturday evening that offers another example — this time with a Spanish accent — of the popular marketing trend of branded entertainment.
Branded entertainment involves embedding products in program content to avoid the fate of traditional commercials, which can be zapped or zipped through by viewers as they try to avoid paid pitches. In the show on Saturday night, as is increasingly the case with branded entertainment projects, the selling is done discreetly rather than in your face.
The special, which will be shown on the Discovery en Español channel at 10 p.m. on Saturday, is the documentary-style “Gen H,” for “generation Hispanic.” The program looks at the lives of three young Hispanic people — a chef, a rock musician and a gallery owner — trying to achieve success in the United States.
The “H,” as it turns out, also alludes to the involvement of Heineken, the beer brand that is sponsoring the show. But the sponsorship is presented in a low-key way.
For instance, Heineken is acknowledged at the end of the program, with a title card, but not at the beginning; there will be commercials for Heineken during the show, but there will also be spots for other advertisers.
While Heineken bottles turn up in various scenes of the show — at the chef’s restaurant; the rocker’s concerts; and the gallery owner’s art shows — the appearances are nowhere near as blatant as they were in earlier versions of branded entertainment efforts like “The Restaurant” on NBC.
“We as a brand don’t want to be overly intrusive,” said Colin Westcott-Pitt, vice president of marketing for the Heineken brand at Heineken USA.
The program is “a showcase for the three subjects,” he said, rather than for Heineken.
Although Heineken has “done quite a few things” in the realm of branded entertainment, Mr. Westcott-Pitt said, “this is the strongest and deepest” involvement that the brand has had in a program. “In the future, you will see us do a lot more in this space.”
More information about “Gen H” can be found on a section of the cable channel’s Web site. The show is being presented as part of the programming on Discovery en Español for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Making sure a branded entertainment program does not turn off viewers with overt placements is “hard, but not difficult,” said Enrique Montoya, vice president of Discovery Solutions at Discovery Networks Latin America and U.S. Hispanic in Miami, which is part of Discovery Communications.
“It requires a lot of energy to see one of these through,” Mr. Montoya said, but it is worth the effort because Discovery executives “want to do more” such shows, and “advertisers want to do more and agencies want to do more.”
“Gen H” was created for Heineken by Discovery en Español as part of efforts for advertisers that make “a certain level of investment” in the channel, Mr. Montoya said, meaning those that buy a certain level of commercial time. (He declined to discuss specific amounts.)
“They reach that level and we enter into content production,” he added, “either a new production or something that’s already in the works.”