Turner Drives Integrated Sponsorship Pact With Toyota For 'Are We There Yet?'

Turner Entertainment has steered an integrated deal with Toyota behind upcoming original series Are We There Yet?
Working through multicultural media sales firm ACE Media Corp. and multicultural buying agency Burrell Communications Group, Toyota is the exclusive auto sponsor of the series, which is based on the Revolution Studios film of the same name and bows June 2 on TBS at 9 p.m., with back-to-back episodes.
Moreover, as the only integration partner during the show's 10-episode rookie season -- opening up where the popular film left off, with Nick Persons (Terry Crews) and Suzanne Kingston-Persons (Essence Atkins) freshly married -- the automaker's custom season-long sponsorship features the Toyota Highlander as the new family's vehicle of choice.
The brand will also be integrated through a larger sponsorship focused on reaching a multicultural audience tuning in for the new series. Additional marketing elements include sponsored tune-ins and in-show messaging for Toyota.
"We are always looking to create unique opportunities to present our client's products to African American consumers," said D. Gray-Young, vice president, media director of Toyota. "Aligning our client Toyota with the new family comedy Are We There Yet? was a natural fit. We wanted to be a part of the excitement and enthusiasm viewers are sure to bring to this new program."
Linda Yaccarino, executive vice president and chief operating offer, Turner Entertainment Ad Sales/Marketing and Acquisitions, said Are We There Yet is another "big step" in the programmer's embrace of the multicultural space over the past couple of years that began with the ground-breaking deals with Debmar-Mercury for Tyler Perry's House of Payne and Meet The Browns in which TBS made initial series commitments and then green-lit multiple-season orders. Similarly, TBS, which helped bring diversity to late-night via George Lopez's Lopez Tonight, has ordered 10 episodes of Are We There Yet?, with an option for an additional 90 episodes.
Yaccarino called Toyota "a long-time supporter of Turner Entertainment" and a client that is "very particular about what original cable shows it associates itself with." To that end, Toyota has run schedules in cable's top show, TNT's The Closer, as well as House of Payne and Meet The Browns.
Yaccarino said Toyota was in "about as early on as a client could be involved with the creative vision of a show," which the relationship dating back to last summer. "[Series executive producers] Joe Roth [Revolution Studios founder] and Ice Cube [who played Persons in the the theatrical] have a long list of accomplishments and Turner has developed good originals. Toyota was a logical partner and we owe them a debt of gratitude for working with us," said Yaccarino. "We knew we would schedule the show for second or third quarter in [2010], but Toyota was so confident in the idea that they made the commitment without even seeing any video."
She noted that all of the parties worked well together and Turner is confident that "we've created storylines where the Highlander is a natural fit in the show."
The first big integration is scheduled for the second installment in which Nick finds himself at a dealership searching for a new SUV. When he sees and hears about the features of the Toyota Highlander, he falls in love with the vehicle. From its seven airbags to the large side view mirrors, he wants one of his own, but first has to check with his wife. Things take a turn when the salesman talks him into applying for a loan for the vehicle, which is declined. However everything works out for the best in the end, though, and Nick gets the Highlander SUV.
Yaccarino said but there will be "exposures and mentions in subsequent episodes" of the vehicle as well.
She declined to disclose the value of the deal, but did say that Turner "anticipates that Toyota will be a big partner for many years to come."