NBC to air some live commercials during ‘Hairspray’

This image released by NBC shows, from left, Maddie Baillio as Tracy Turnblad, Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle, Harvey Fierstein as Edna Turnblad during a rehearsal for "Hairspray Live!," airing Dec. 7. Sets for the musical were designed by Broadway set designer Derek McLane. (Trae Patton/NBC via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s not just the musical “Hairspray” that will air live on NBC Wednesday night. So will a handful of the show’s commercials.

NBC hopes some innovative approaches will keep viewers interested and point the way toward more creativity among advertisers at a time viewers are accustomed to fast-forwarding through commercials. The live musical, which is quickly becoming a December tradition for NBC, is “the biggest test kitchen that we could possibly have,” said Linda Yaccarino, chairwoman of advertising sales and client partnerships at the network, on Tuesday.

The live commercials hearken back to the early days of television.

On Wednesday, Toyota will air a live commercial that’s styled after the 1960s setting of the musical, featuring the 2017 Corolla alongside a 50-year-old model of the car.

During another break, Reddi wip will be featured in a musical commercial choreographed by the “Hairspray Live!” team and featuring crew and cast members. NBC says it is inspired by the whipped cream brand’s history of being delivered to the door by milkmen years ago.

Similarly, actor Derek Hough, who plays Corny Collins in “Hairspray Live!,” will stay in character following a musical number to extol the virtues of Oreo cookies.

In a couple of other commercial breaks, NBC will show live backstage scenes from the musical on a split screen with ads.

Ads are necessary for the TV industry to do business, said NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt. But the more the network can do to combat the letdown feeling that viewers often have during commercial breaks, the better for all involved, he said.

“The more you can make the audience feel that the ads are part of the zeitgeist of the show, the less they feel like, ‘oh, it’s a pharmaceutical ad in the middle of this joyous musical,'” Greenblatt said.

The Super Bowl every year is considered a creative showcase for advertisers, and Greenblatt said he’d like to provide more opportunities to do that other times during the year.

“I want to make the whole experience for viewers as good as it possibly can be,” he said.

Yaccarino said there was more demand from advertisers for such experimentation in “Hairspray Live!” than NBC had the capacity to do at this point. NBC would not discuss what advertisers are charged for the special commercials compared to more typical ads.

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Online: http://www.nbc.com/hairspray-live