For Pizza Hut, Jesse James Is a Sponsored Man

Daredevil Acts as High-Speed Deliveryman in His New Spike Series

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Marketers have long been willing to go to great lengths with TV producers for the sake of product placement, but what about the talent? Daredevil and former "Monster Garage" star Jesse James is going the extra mile for marketers in his first TV series in three years, "Jesse James Is a Dead Man," which will make its debut on Spike on May 31.

'Jesse James Is a Dead Man'
'Jesse James Is a Dead Man' Credit: Spike
Each episode features Mr. James crossing various death-defying stunts off his bucket list, from riding an explosive nitro-methane motorcycle to attempting to outrun the police. In one particular viewer-submitted challenge, Mr. James plays the role of high-speed deliveryman for Pizza Hut, answering the request of two hungry fans who live in the middle of the Mojave Desert and have no access to the Yum Brands chain's signature pepperoni pie.

Mr. James jumped at the challenge, said Sharon Levy, Spike's senior VP-original series. "He actually said, 'I could get it there while it's still piping hot,' and he did. He even fabricated one of his vehicles to make sure he could still deliver a hot pizza."

Mr. James also wore a Pizza Hut uniform and plastered the company's logo all over his vehicle so it would be visible to the helicopter frantically filming his 120-mph race across the rough desert terrain. It may seem like a desperate bid for ad bucks, but Pizza Hut spokesman Chris Fuller said the integration came down to one word: real.

"Our products are real. We use all natural ingredients in our pizzas that are free from nitrates and all those long words you don't want in your pizzas," he said. "We had a real guy and it was a real challenge from these guys who wanted a pizza delivered to their doorstep."

Mr. James delivers pizzas in a souped-up vehicle plastered with the company's logo.
Mr. James delivers pizzas in a souped-up vehicle plastered with the company's logo.
"Jesse James Is a Dead Man" is likely to offer other unique integrations throughout its 10-episode run for marketers including BMW, which see one of its souped-up motorcycles skidding across the arctic ice road shared by the History Channel's "Ice Road Truckers." Jeff Lucas, Spike's exec VP-ad sales, recently had Mr. James meet with the network's sales staff to discuss future opportunities.

"The guy has a great business mind, and he wants to make the show relevant and go the extra yard for an advertiser. He knows if he does a great job onscreen, that increases the value of the show to the channel," he said. "It definitely helps that he knows from past shows what sponsors can mean to a show in terms of the economics of it."

Pizza Hut will also return as one of the title sponsors of Spike's Guys Choice awards, which will air June 21.

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