NBCU Gives Toyota a Tour Backstage of ‘Deadly Class’

Even in science fiction, you can’t always integrate a product into a show, but NBCUniversal found a sanguine way to put Toyota in the driver’s seat as sponsor of the new Syfy series Deadly Class.

The show, about an elite school that trains killers, is set in the 1980s punk rock era in San Francisco, so it would be difficult to pull off a beauty shot of new car, Instead, NBCU created videos of Syfy Wire correspondent Whitney Moore talking to Rick Remender, who created the show based on his comic book series, and providing a behind-the-scenes guided tour in a Toyota RAV4.

NBCU is on a campaign to make advertising less intrusive and more effective. Creating and airing this type of branded content is one way the company plans to cut commercial loads on its broadcast and cable networks.

Deadly Class has its premiere Wednesday. The premiere also marks the first sponsorship of this type on Syfy.

"Scifi genre fans, and certainly Syfy network viewers are so engaged and passionate about the content that they want to go deep and they want to understand the inspiration of what the author was creating,” said Mark Miller, executive VP, ad sales, at NBCU.

Miller said NBCU has had great results doing behind the scenes vignettes for other shows including This Is Us. “We’re seeing success in other parts of the portfolio and this is another great way to do it on Syfy.”

For Toyota, the project presented a chance for the RAV4 to be integrated into engaging content.The network and show were also a good contextual match for Toyota.

“They were looking for millennial males and Syfy and certainly graphic novels line up with that demo,” Miller said. “So when we first started talking to Toyota about it, it was the right genre, right content, right demo. Everything fit.”

Pamela Mark, media manager for Toyota Marketing, added that the opportunity with Deadly Class gave the automaker an chance to connect with the audience while showcasing the all-new RAV4 in action.

As one of the most highly anticipated new series on the Syfy network this year, this content integration provided a unique opportunity to engage with the millennial audience that aligns with the target for our all-new RAV4 launch campaign," Mark said. 

Miller noted that music is important to Toyota’s brand and the music in the series was attractive to the sponsor as well.

In three vignettes produced, Syfy Wire’s talks about the stories origins with Remender, the show’s creator while tooling around in a Rav4. The production highlights the car and some of its features.

Short 30-second versions of the vignettes will appear on the channel and in the show, paired with commercials for Toyota of the course of the season. Longer five minute versions of the vignettes will be stream on Syfy Wire. The vignettes will also be pushed out on social channels by NBCU.

As a presenting sponsor of the show, Toyota will get brand recognition in the shows open and be co-promoted in tune in spots.

Financial details of the sponsorship were not disclosed.

According to NBCU, Deadly Class is an unlikely coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of late-‘80s counter-culture. It follows a teenager who is recruited into the Kings Dominion School for the Deadly Arts, an elite high school for the world’s top future killers. As he begins his training, he quickly learns that maintaining his moral code while surviving a ruthless curriculum, vicious social cliques and his own adolescent uncertainties may prove fatal.

From Sony Pictures Television and Universal Cable Productions, the show is directed by Joe & Anthony Russo, It stars Benjamin Wadsworth, Benedict Wong, Lana Condor, Maria Gabriela de Faria, Luke Tennie, Liam James and Michel Duval.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.