CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Looking for a branded-entertainment splash on the same scale that its parent, Clorox, enjoyed with "The Biggest Loser," the Armor All car-care-products brand is partnering with Turner Sports on a series of webisodes featuring its star Nascar driver, Tony Stewart.
The series, called "Off Track With Tony Stewart," is an online reality show built around the off-track pursuits of Mr. Stewart, one of racing's more colorful -- and combustible -- personalities. Beginning April 1, it'll be viewable on Nascar.com, Yahoo Sports and Armor All's site.
Armor All executives said they were looking to leverage their longtime sponsorship of Mr. Stewart in a way that would engage racing fans. "We wanted to show Tony in this new light," said Scott Iason, Clorox's associate group manager for media investments. "It's unique content, and we can weave in our brand where appropriate."
First crack at branded entertainment
Armor All, which has never created branded entertainment before, hired Edelman's sports and entertainment unit, Matter, to help it create the programming. Matter approached Turner Sports, which broadcasts Nascar races, and Turner was quickly sold.
Mr. Iason wouldn't disclose the cost of the sponsorship but said, "This is the biggest thing in our marketing budget next to our TV budget, and you could argue that a lot of the TV budget is involved with this."
Nascar sponsor Jim Beam produced a similar web-based series around its driver, Robbie Gordon, last year, and that effort was successful enough to be expanded to 14 episodes this year from eight a year ago.
Turner offered its own Nascar production crews to give the series the sheen of a Nascar broadcast. (Logistically, the presence of the Turner crews and Mr. Stewart at each weekly race was easy to work out.) "We're able to produce a webcast the same way we would a television vignette," said Walker Jacobs, senior VP of Turner Sports and Entertainment Digital Ad Sales.
And that's exactly what Armor All was looking for.
"We wanted this to be real entertainment," said Mr. Iason, who said the web broadcasts won't feature the customary before-and-after ads online viewers are generally subjected to.
Not that the series is light on branding. Mr. Stewart, as one would expect, is a car nut. One episode focuses on his car collection, which offers plenty of opportunities to plug his car-care sponsor, of course. Another installment takes him to a high-school charity car wash.
TV promotion from Turner
The series will benefit from TV promotion during Turner's Major League Baseball broadcasts, including 30-second spots that will run during 26 MLB games. During race broadcasts, the series will be promoted by Armor All-branded onscreen billboards.
It'll be plugged further in advertorial supplements in automotive publications including Car & Driver and in-store displays at AutoZone.
Yahoo's Nascar page will show the series in an Armor All-branded video player.
Armor All is also hyping a sweepstakes for a VIP race weekend and a chance to meet Mr. Stewart.