- CNN will run live ads for the first time on its live stream digital and social media coverage of the solar eclipse on Aug. 21, as reported by Ad Age. Volvo will be the brand behind the live ad format, and CNN is expected to begin making live ads available on all its platforms, including the cable TV channel.
- Volvo and CNN’s in-house branded content studio Courageous developed the effort, with the ads using four cameras in different locations around the country filming influencers talking about the solar event while it happens. The influencers include Richard Wiese, president of the Explorers Club, Andy Weir, author of "The Martian," Kara Cooney, an Egyptologist and astronaut Cady Coleman. Each will arrive at an eclipse viewing location in a 2018 Volvo XC60 equipped with 4K VR and 360-degree cameras to capture the commercial.
- CNN isn’t the only network making special plans with branded promotions around the eclipse. The Weather Channel is using augmented reality (AR) in its coverage and will be partnered with Royal Caribbean for coverage at sea as well as Alaska Airlines on a flight following the eclipse.
Live ads are making something of a comeback, and Ad Age speculated part of that resurgence could be attributed to networks hoping to reach people who either skip traditional ad spots or watch content on platforms that don’t have commercials. The format also addresses the interest in live event TV, which often includes a strong social media component as viewers comment on the action. As a result, live ads have the potential to drive important earned media for brands.
Mars Chocolate's candy bar brand Snickers ran a live ad during the Super Bowl featuring actor Adam Driver. The spot faked everything going wrong during filming, a ploy to catch viewers’ attention and spark conversation. The results included almost 1.5 billion organic impressions, nearly 5 million live streams and 20 million minutes of consumed brand content.
The solar eclipse should get a lot of attention and, like the Super Bowl, it is definitely an event best watched live, so it makes sense that CNN and The Weather Channel, as well as brands, are looking at this as unique opportunity to engage consumers.
NBC also ran live commercials from Oreo and Toyota during its broadcast of "Hairspray Live" in December.