IFC Partners With CNN to Promote Mockumentary Series

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IFC tapped CNN's content studio to help plug the premiere of the second season of its mockumentary series "Documentary Now!"

The first episode of the new season, which bows on Wednesday, pays tribute to "The War Room," about Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign.

To promote IFC's version, "The Bunker," CNN's content studio, Courageous, created a custom spot featuring James Carville, the lead strategist for the campaign, and Dee Dee Myers, the White House press secretary during the first two years of the Clinton administration.

In the spot, Mr. Carville and Ms. Myers discuss "The Bunker" as though it is a real film and the characters in it are real political figures. They speak to the immense influence "The Bunker" has had on their lives and the way people perceive political campaigns.

The video is replacing full commercial pods during CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" and "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." The branded content is also running on CNN's Snapchat Discover channel in the advertising space, as well as on other social media platforms.

"Documentary Now!," created by Seth Meyers, Bill Hader and Fred Armisen and staring Mr. Hader and Mr. Armisen, spoofs famous documentaries. The concept is this is a very serious PBS-style documentary show in its 51st season hosted by Helen Mirren.

"We approach the marketing saying, 'let's create this fictional reality,'" said Blake Callaway, exec VP-marketing, IFC.

So IFC's strategy is to essentially pretend "Documentary Now!" is a real show. They aren't playing up the jokes or winking playfully at viewers.

"We have what we think are smart comedy fans who are in on the joke," Mr. Callaway said. "Playing it a little quieter helps elevate the content."

Advertisers are also getting in on the joke and treating "Documentary Now!" in the same vein.

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Sam Adams will sponsor an "after-show" called "Documentary Now Later," a spoof on the after-shows that have become popular for shows like "The Walking Dead." "Documentary Now Later" will air as a one-minute roundtable discussion immediately after each episode.

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IFC also created custom spots for Volkswagen that make it appear like the automaker has been a sponsor of the show for decades.

For the second episode, "Juan Likes Rice & Chicken," which is based on "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," IFC partnered with the food delivery service Maple, which will serve a rice-and-chicken dish next week. Grubstreet will post a review on Juan's as though it is a real restaurant opening and IFC wrapped a building in downtown New York City to make it look like Juan's restaurant.

The second season will also pay tribute to "Stop Making Sense" and "The Kid Stays in the Picture," among others.

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