The first ad break appeared six minutes into this week's episode, which features kids between the ages of 8 and 15 vying for $20,000 gold stars in a New Mexico frontier town.
This week's Wednesday broadcast included ads from several movie studios; Capital One; Red Bull; and a handful of pharmaceuticals, including Pfizer's Chantix smoking-cessation medication. Even General Motors Corp., one of CBS's biggest sponsors, ran an ad for its OnStar communications and navigation service. A GM spokeswoman said the automaker is screening episodes of "Kid Nation" in advance and will run ads "on some episodes" when it is certain none of the content is objectionable. Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble does not plan to purchase ads in the show, according to a spokeswoman for the consumer-products giant.
The hesitation on the part of some big advertisers to run their commercials illustrates the tightrope CBS is walking by backing the program. Reality shows such as "Kid Nation" generate buzz and chatter, and draw the curious to CBS's airwaves. But the controversy can be enough to dissuade some of the network's biggest sponsors from supporting the shows.
One media buyer said certain advertisers remain wary of "Kid Nation," and expects many marketers to follow General Motors' screening method throughout the program's run.
Heavy on promos
In some cases, CBS appears to be running as many promos for its own shows as it is ads for other companies' goods and services.
The first ad break in the show contained three ads, then a public-service announcement and a promo for "The Big Bang Theory," a new CBS sitcom. The second ad break also contained three ads, as well as a CBS show promo, a 30-second public-service message from "CSI" star William Petersen, and a one-minute music video about CBS's Friday-night lineup backed up with a song from Celine Dion.
A third ad break seemed fuller, with four ads and a promo, plus ad time devoted to commercials from the local affiliate. The program's fourth and fifth ad breaks contained three ads each. One of the most frequent promos that ran was one for "Survivor: China."