‘Deadpool’ Ad Stunt to Blanket Shows on 5 Viacom Networks – Even ‘The Golden Girls’ (Exclusive)

Multiple shows on channels like Comedy Central and MTV will run no commercials except for custom spots for Fox’s R-rated superhero movie with Ryan Reynolds

“Deadpool” is invading Viacom next week, and even the “Golden Girls” aren’t safe.

20th Century Fox’s movie will take over all the ad inventory for airings of eight programs on five Viacom networks next week. On Monday, three total hours of programming across MTV, VH1 and Spike will run nothing but custom spots for the hard R-rated superhero movie starring Ryan Reynolds.

Starting today, those three networks plus Comedy Central and Spike will air “tune-in” ads teasing — well, warning, actually — viewers that Deadpool himself is overrunning their shows next week.

“It’s the biggest takeover stunt we’ve ever done with a partner,” Dario Spina, executive vice president of Viacom’s Velocity marketing team, told TheWrap.

The unusual campaign is counter-strike against a challenging cross-section of dwindling attention spans, declining ratings and the ease of circumventing TV ads.

By blanketing multiple shows on several networks and online platforms next week, Fox marketers hope to target audiences while hammering them with repetition — all under the guise of making shows “commercial free.”

Neither Viacom nor 20th Century Fox would disclose how much was invested in the campaign.

Larry Chiagouris, a marketing professor at Lubin School of Business at Pace University, said show takeovers are uncommon, and ones that span several programs, networks and days are rarer still. But such campaigns make sense for advertisers in today’s environment, he said.

“The truth is the average consumer’s attention span has declined because there are so many distractions. One way to deal with it is repetition,” he said. Weaker ratings have brought down the cost of buying media time, making such a widespread campaign more cost-effective. And network fragmentation, he said, tends to make a channel’s audience homogeneous, so you can cater to specific audiences.

Some of the programs in the “Deadpool” campaign, like “Tosh.0” and “Workaholics” on Comedy Central, have a young, male audience logical for a raunchy comic-book film. But others, like Logo’s “Golden Girls,” widen the marketing to unlikely demographics.

The choice to include “Golden Girls” in the campaign riffs on a quirk of Deadpool’s character, Spina said. In the film, he follows “Golden Girls” on Instagram. The spots, shot by Viacom’s in-house creative team Velocity, were customized to suit each show, with the “Golden Girls” content showing a rose-bearing Deadpool wooing viewers in a Valentine’s Day seduction.

Julie Rieger, executive vice president of marketing and planning at 20th Century Fox, said in a statement that Viacom’s data team helped determine consumer targeting, and the networks reprogrammed schedule so the campaign would “own the right shows.”

The promotion will wiggle into one program itself with a dedicated segment on Comedy Central’s “@midnight With Chris Hardwick.” Hardwick will lead a game that challenges contestants to translate strings of emoji that describe an element from the film, like a superhero power.

The campaign will also spread online across many of Viacom’s sites and social accounts, such as MTV’s online video player and Comedy Central’s spot in the Discover corner of social-sharing app Snapchat, among others.

The shows included are MTV’s “Teen Mom” and “Ridiculousness;” Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0,” “Workaholics” and “@midnight;” VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop;” Logo’s “Golden Girls;” and Spike’s “Cops.”