CMT’s Nashville Integrates New Ad Technique


Several months ago, I sat alone watching a TV show on CMT called Nashville. I will be the first to admit that it is not the type of show that I would normally watch; However, that is besides my point for today.

(Disclaimer: The following content discusses events that have occurred in CMT’s Nashville, if you wish to watch the show unspoiled, just beware of what you read.)

One Thursday night over the summer, I was in the middle of watching the newest episode of Nashville when I came across something very revolutionary pertaining to advertising. Before I tell you what that is, let me first define something for you. What is Native Advertising?

According to Sharethrough, “native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.”

Ordinarily, native advertising comes in the form of in-feed ads, promoted listings, content recommendation widgets, and custom content units. However, what you are about to see is very different in style, but the core concept is relative to native advertising. The form that this example has taken is in the form of video.

If you are not familiar with the TV show Nashville, it is a heartwarming drama surrounding the lives of various musicians trying to make it in the country music business. One record label has invited Zack, a tech mogul who has an interest in the country music business, to help keep things running smoothly. Zack and his team pitched an idea of artist-brand partnerships, much like athlete-brand partnerships. Will Lexington, one of the artists on the label, was the first one approached by a company – the brand being, Budweiser. Now that I have given you a brief background, I will let you just watch the scene, then I will continue my train of thought.

Okay, you are wondering, “So what?” Well, as streaming becomes more relevant and commercials become ever more unwatched, I realize a demand for new techniques in presenting ads in streaming services. The catch is, however, they will not be presented in the usual we-will-be-right-back-after-this-quick-break fashion. The key is to implement advertising within television shows themselves. Essentially, viewers will not realize that they have just watched a commercial, which is almost, if not exactly, a type of native advertising.

Consequently, there are several issues surrounding this approach, one of which being that the show Nashville just happens to be the perfect platform for that kind of rollout. But, the concept does seem to have some potential. For the folks interested in advertising and innovative ways to communicate them, this is definitely something to keep your eye on in the future.

Ben Yerby

10 thoughts on “CMT’s Nashville Integrates New Ad Technique

  1. This is so interesting. Native advertising is somewhat immoral, as it blurs the line between commercial and editorial, or the line of church and state. As a consumer, it causes me to feel frustrated and less trusting of advertising companies. I hope that consumers revolt and do not tolerate it.

  2. I find this post so relevant, as I just finished up an assignment for 231 about advertising in television and films. We watched The Persuaders, which is a short film on “modern” day marketing and advertising (I put modern in quotes because it was created in 2004). While the film did not use the specific term “native advertising” it hinted at this idea of disguised advertising quite a bit. We also did talk about this term in class a few weeks ago. I think we used the example of Buzzfeed or NY Times news articles but I cannot remember exactly. Great post!

  3. This is so important to begin to recognize in shows, movies, or really any form of media. As long as consumers educate themselves, then what is there to worry about? No one is being conned into giving their money to a company without their consent. It is great for people to be less trusting of advertising because then we will be more wary of products. This is really a pretty creative way advertisers have adapted to the lucrative attention of consumers.

  4. I personally think this is great! The video matches what I have always seen as Budweiser and the demographic that I assume watches the show would feel a connection. I think this is much better than taking commercial breaks. I think one of my primary reasons I no longer pay for cable is that it seems every five minutes there is ten minutes of commercials. I would strongly consider purchasing cable again if something like this becomes the primary form of advertising. I also feel like this would be a great avenue for lower budget productions to get funding. The production company gets to produce their show/film and the advertiser possibly has a permanent place in culture if the show or film gets popular.

  5. I noticed that native advertising has become much more prevalent lately. With DVR, it is easy to skip through commercials when watching television and therefore companies must reach the public in different ways. I think native advertising is a smart way to do so, but I do feel it to be a bit violating in a way, as viewers are forced to watch ads. I feel like product placement is a form of native advertising, too. I notice it a lot in music videos and TV shows. This type of advertising makes me fear how companies are going to advertise to the public in the future.

  6. Hi Ben,
    I thought this article was very interesting! I have never heard of native advertising, but it is a very clever way of making viewers watch commercials without them realizing it. This goes along with what we have been learning in IMC class about how advertising has become a game of getting inside of consumer’s heads and forcing them to have a certain mindset about a product or brand.

  7. I had never heard of native advertising before but after reading this article I found that I have actually been subjected to it for quite a while. I have found more often over the last year or so that advertisers are using characters from a popular show to promote their brands rather than anonymous people. Very interesting.

  8. This was super interesting!! I thought it was so smart to place an ACTUAL advertisement in a show where people are glued to “their show” on television. I don’t watch Nashville, but I am a lover of Grey’s Anatomy. When I watch it on Netflix, I don’t think my eyes move away from the screen for more than 5 seconds, and my full attention is on Meredith Grey for 45 minutes. Budweiser seems to be a great brand to appeal to the “country music” crowd that makes up the majority of Nashville watchers. Very interesting!

  9. This is fascinating. I feel like this concept is a evolution in product placement and I have a feeling that we will be seeing more and more products being advertised to us in this way because the advertisement did not feel out of place of the show at all like you had mentioned. However, I do not have a stance about whether it this will is morally ethical or not because I felt like the advertisement did not take much away from what was going on in the show. Great article!

  10. I had no idea this was going on, so it was definitely interesting to read about. I don’t really agree with this method of advertising and I honestly don’t think it is all that effective considering I hadn’t even noticed it or heard of it. Advertising is what I would like to go into, so it was really interesting getting to see this side of it.

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