Reality program makes pitch to Bay Area |

Reality program makes pitch to Bay Area

John Seelmeyer

The advertising that the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority will start running in the Bay Area late this month is so different that no one is quite sure what to call it.

The best name they’ve come up with so far is “branded entertainment,” and here’s how it works: “What Did You Do Last Weekend,” a halfhour reality program set at Lake Tahoe and Reno, blends entertaining stories of visitors’ trips to the region with a subtle but steady drumbeat of promotion for America’s Adventure Place.

The program isn’t an infomercial.

Bay Area stations that carry “What Did You Do”won’t tag it as paid advertising.

In fact, the 25-minute show allows local stations to sell spots and generate some revenue.

Each of the three shows produced so far combine material about outdoor adventures a family enjoying Tahoe snow, for instance with stories of nighttime activities in the region’s casinos.

“We’re trying to change the perception of Reno and Lake Tahoe among San Franciscans,” says Erin Wallace, a spokeswoman for RSCVA.”Reno is hip and cool.We have some great outdoor adventures.”

Delivering that message on broadcast television is difficult because viewers have learned to tune out advertising, says Tim Hall, vice president and general manager of Innerwest Advertising and Public Relations, whose firm developed the programming for RSCVA.

The challenge,Hall says, is to create programming that is so entertaining that viewers will sit still to hear the advertising message.

That required 11 days of shooting working around two major snowstorms and long hours of editing to boil the video shot by two and three cameras into coherent 25-minute programs.

“This isn’t scripted.

There isn’t a story,” says Hall.”What happened, happened.

It’s fun to watch.

It’s funny.

It’s real people doing their thing in Reno.”

The branded-entertainment programming is budgeted at $150,000,Wallace said.

While similar advertising efforts are rare today,Hall says RSCVA’s promotional needs are ideal for the new format.


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