Case Study: Parks & Rec Branded Integration For Charity


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A Lil' Sebastian Never Hurt Anyone

Parks And Recreation is perhaps one of the most popular NBC sitcoms to have graced the network for its successful run of six years. Unlike other sitcoms, it maintains a real sweetness and wholesome quality that sky rocketed the show's popularity after the second season found its stride.

As brands look to address the concerns of people everywhere, there can be few strategies more genius than the decision to bring back Parks and Recreation for special branded episode. In this blog, Hollywood Branded discusses the case study of Parks And Recreation's Branded Integration charity drive with AllState and Subaru. 

Case Study_ Parks & Rec Branded Integration

Why The Integration Now?

A phrase we are all well accustomed to hearing at this point is "during these uncertain times." It makes sense given that we live in a particular state of many unknown variables, and that can be very unnerving to say the least. As many people have been laid off from work and the health and safety of loved ones is at question, to describe this climate as uncertain addresses our fears and concerns without conjuring any further feelings of fear.

As soon as COVID-19 became an international concern, we immediately began seeing PSAs featuring actors advocating to stay home, stay safe and rest assured that everything was going to be okay. All this is to say that any attempt at resonating with consumers will be difficult if it proves unsuccessful to address the state of the world today.

Living through a pandemic is the elephant in the room and if you try to avoid it, your messaging reads as insincere. Though at the same time, the last thing you want is to further any anxieties on the matter. What matters most is reaching people in a way that speaks to their wants and needs but more than anything - provides a sense of comfort.

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That is why AllState and Subaru teamed up with Feeding America, to  partner with the (usually retired) cast of Parks and Recreation to create a special episode to help raise money for causes that assist with families in need during Coronavirus. The result was a smash success! In fact, it raised over 3 million dollars in just 24 hours.

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What Did The Brand Receive? 

Allstate and Subaru have both partnered on an ongoing basis with the non-profit, Feeding America. It made sense for the non-competing but very complimentary brands to team up together in this case with Parks and Recreation, known not just for its popularity but specifically the warmth and positive association that comes with the series. The goal then became to produce a television special that would inspire viewing audiences to make donations to Feeding America that both Allstate and Subaru would work together to match the sum total of donation.

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The result is a branded integration woven throughout the episode with two verbal mentions and a banner with a link and QR code that were shown five times throughout the episode. In any branded integration, these messaging points are always a crucial issue of discussion - both the brand and the production must collaborate in a way that organically weaves the talking points into the story but also effectively communicates them.

Often the hard work lies in the effort to keep messaging points subtle and not in your face, though in the case of charity work - the rules are different. Being as this content was created to inspire donations and activism for a cause, the cause is placed front and center throughout the episode. Check out what that integration looked like in this video highlighting the messaging points.

A Pawnee Service Announcement

One of the greatest successes of this branded content is that it manages not to shy away from the subject matter in a way that is accessible. In fact, this special episode of Parks and Recreation really doubles as a public service announcement just as much as it is a branded integration.

Throughout the episode you often hear questions and comments like "have you been social distancing?" "The CDC asked me to donate blood..." and "remember to wash your hands." 

As the special episode aptly mirrors the effect of a video conference, each character jumps on the call with their computer. This is genius as it not only speaks to the current standard of social distancing, but it also serves a very basic logistical issue. This episode was made expediently to help get the message out and what better way to address the fact that current production needs would violate the rules of social distancing?

While productions will soon be able to find methods to get back to work, it will be different.  In the upcoming months and perhaps years ahead, brands and productions will have to find new ways to get creative to ensure that they can continue to create content as life provides more hiccups (and viruses) along the way. 

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That's A Wrap!

Throughout the special episode of Parks And Recreation, Amy Poehler delivers several statements, including, "by any means possible, we should try to stay connected with each other" and " Please donate anything you can - your time, your money, your resources. We need all the help we can get." What made this television special was the fact that it truly served as much of a public service announcement to generate conversation about how we can all help combat COVID-19, but even more importantly, to remind viewing audiences that we are indeed all in this together. And really, you can't find a better show to deliver an informative message of hope than Parks and Rec. This campaign was by all accounts a slam dunk for everyone involved.

Curious to learn more about the ways COVID-19 has impacted the entertainment industry and how many some productions and content creators are still able to keep working? Check out these other blog posts we've written!

Check out the below Forbes article where Stacy shares more insight on the landscape of product placement growth and COVID-19:

Want to learn more about how your brand can become integrated into productions? We walk you through how product placement and co-braned promotions.  Take a read - download it now!   Product Placement & Co-Promotions 101 Guide