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It may be harder to distinguish fake “Saturday Night Live” ads from real ones next season

NBC/"Saturday Night Live'
Are they really laughing, or just selling something?
  • Ashley Rodriguez
By Ashley Rodriguez


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Real Saturday Night Live commercials might look a lot more like parody ads next season.

Broadcaster NBC is helping advertisers create more content that ties into the sketch-comedy show, while the network trims the number of traditional commercials within the program by 30%.

The network has been experimenting with branded content in SNL programming for the past few years. Close followers of the show may recall that, in 2009, SNL ran three reworked sketches of the MacGyver-based spoof MacGruber featuring Pepsi products, and went so far as to name MacGruber “Pepsuber.” That same year, Anheuser-Busch bought out a full episode to run never-before-aired SNL clips during commercial breaks with a segment called “Backstage with Bud Light Golden Wheat,” which included highlights from live viewing parties around the country, hosted by the beer brand.

This year, NBC is devoting six commercial slots to branded content that blends into the show, along with more sponsored content from advertisers.

NBC is one of many media conglomerates cutting back on commercial interruptions in favor of branded content that is more integrated into their programs. Turner’s truTV is also slashing traditional ads to win back cord cutters.

It’s a tricky move for a show that regularly promotes fake products with parody ads— Mom Jeans demin, Oops! I Crapped My Pants diapers, and Shimmer non-dairy floor wax, to name a few. The show might think of its sponsored content as self-referential jokes about selling out. But that only works if the jokes are actually funny.

Here are some of its authentically fake ads that actually were fake:

Hoverboards, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awaken toys, 2015

Lincoln “MKC,” 2014

MacIntosh Post-It notes, 2003

Kotex Classic, 2002

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