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Apple has signed a deal with NBC that will see the crew of "Saturday Night Live" create at least one commercial for the iPhone maker, blurring the line between the show and advertising.
The content should appear during the show in a few weeks from now, Variety said on Friday, citing a pair of sources. The material is expected to "look different" from an upcoming ad for Verizon, which features show member Kenan Thompson in a treatment written by "Weekend Update" anchor Colin Jost.
Although such spots may raise concerns, "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels is said to have approached NBCUniversal's ad sales team about the idea, with the hope of cutting down on the overall number of commercials to make watching live more palatable.
"People can DVR and scroll through the commercials and watch it the next morning, but we want them to watch it as an event show," he explained to Variety. "And in exchange for losing three minutes of commercials, which makes the show go much faster, we sort of made an agreement that we would be open to working with advertisers."
The show's producers are said to have approached the idea carefully, selecting the kinds of products and brands that might be appropriate. Last year NBC began offering a variety of related ad opportunities, ranging from using the current cast and writers to having former stars resume old roles.
Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBCUniversal, told Variety that "SNL" won't be doing ads in large numbers since "the art takes a while."
Apple's marketing strategy has evolved in recent months to focus less on TV and more on digital platforms like Twitter and YouTube. Indeed the company's main ad partner, TBWA\Media Arts Lab, has consolidated and laid off some workers in order to cut costs.