The CW Targets Royal Baby Photos With Ads For 'Reign'

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The birth of a new British royal elicited a blizzard of Twitter posts from brands looking to emulate Oreo's famed Super Bowl tweet. A number of those marketers, in turn, sparked contempt from the Twitterati for their opportunism.

Wait until they feast their eyes on what The CW has spawned.

The CW is has begun running ads right inside images of Prince William and Kate Middleton's newborn son to promote the TV network's new fall show "Reign," which will center on the adolescent Mary, Queen of Scots.

"We knew the royal baby was just around the corner. As we're giving birth to our own royal baby in 'Reign,' we wanted to figure out ways that we can align our messaging about the [premiere] of our new show with what we were sure and I think even underestimated what kind of media circus the royal birth would be," said The CW's VP-media strategies Caty Burgess.

Appropriating baby photos for advertising purposes -- essentially turning the potential future King of England into a Nascar driver -- is risky to say the least. "We are talking about a baby. I don't really like that," said Gian LaVecchia, managing partner and U.S. digital practice lead at media agency MEC, of advertising on an infant.

Won't The CW receive the same flak as other brands that tried to pile on the royal birth? Couldn't commercializing the child incite even more aggressive vitriol?

"I don't think we're concerned about that," Ms. Burgess said. "It's a slightly different sort of case here more closely aligned with the royal birth than Oreos is. [That 'Reign'] is telling the story of a young royal makes a lot more contextual sense than some of the bandwagoning going on [Monday]."

Mr. LaVecchia agreed. "The attempts to connect X brand to said birth were a pretty dramatic stretch and lack any real effort of authenticity. The ones that were panned fall into that bucket," he said.