CNN Counts Down to New Year With Live Ad From MassMutual

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A scene from one of the branded content videos created for MassMutual as part of a campaign that will also involve a live TV commercial.
A scene from one of the branded content videos created for MassMutual as part of a campaign that will also involve a live TV commercial. Credit: MassMutual

CNN will air its first live TV commercial during its annual New Year's Eve telecast.

MassMutual wants to close the year with a jolt of optimism, leaving people with the feeling that maybe 2017 wasn't as divisive and divided as we all thought, says Jennifer Halloran, head of brand and advertising at the insurance company.

To that end, MassMutual and creative agency-of-record Johannes Leonardo created a two-minute film that highlights six stories about real families, communities and strangers who helped each other in 2017.

The subjects of the videos will be united live during "New Year's Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen."

MassMutual is the exclusive advertiser of CNN's 11 p.m. hour on New Year's Eve and plans limited commercial interruptions. The idea is to have the last word for the year and to give people at least a glimmer of hope for 2018.

Live commercials have been gaining traction as TV networks look for ways to attract marketers frustrated with consumers' tendency to tune out standard ads.

Fox aired a live commercial for Old Navy during its live musical version of "A Christmas Story!" last weekend.

CNN previously aired a live ad in its digital coverage of the solar eclipse this summer for Volvo.

As part of the campaign, MassMutual also used CNN's branded content studio and hired the network's digital brand, Great Big Story, to create six docu-style branded content videos.

MassMutual worked with media agency Giant Spoon on the campaign.

CNN's New Year's Eve countdown last year, which was hosted by Cooper and Kathy Griffin, was watched by 3 million viewers, with 1.3 million in the core 25-to-54 news demographic. It was up 20% in total viewers and 30% in the demo from 2015.

That paled in comparison to ABC's "Dick Clark's Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve," which was watched by 8.2 million viewers. But CNN did best Fox News' New Year's Eve broadcast, which averaged 2 million viewers and 785,000 in the 25-to-54 demo.

Griffin was pulled from the New Year's Eve broadcast in May following a photo shoot where she posed with a fake severed head of President Donald Trump. Andy Cohen will replace Griffin in this year's broadcast.

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