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Jimmy Kimmel Tells America to Say Ahh

On October 21, “Jimmy Kimmel Live” had some remarkably familiar guests from the past grace its stage: Marty McFly and Doc from the beloved trilogy of “Back to the Future” films. Immediately after the segment aired, the late night show was graced with another appearance — the product of a $27 million investment.

In early October, Cigna Health Insurance announced the kickoff of their new advertising campaign, “America Says Ahh.” The campaign, focusing on preventative care and the importance of annual checkups as part of this care, incorporated a 90-second ad campaign, following the show’s “Back to the Future” segment.

The custom integration of “America Says Ahh” began after Kimmel brought his 2,000-person crowd to a lull. As he begins his usual spiel, the host was cut off by a cacophony of noise coming from the area where the “JKL” band plays.

As the audience directed their attention to the balcony at stage right, Kimmel and his guests fouund out that the band leader, Cleto Escobedo, had stepped out to get a quick otoscopy in the “Cigna Chekcup Room,” and in his place a man whom Ad Age described as “an interloper in a turquoise t-shirt.”

For regular advertisements, a 90-second commercial slot typically takes all day to shoot and perfect. While this on-air integration undoubtedly was the product of hours of planning, its execution lasted only a measly one and a half minutes.

While the roughness of a live, one-take shooting was palpable in the performance of turquoise shirted stand-in, Cigna ultimately benefits from significant cost savings, an instant turnaround, and the immense payoff of being associated with one of late night’s darlings.

Cigna is not alone in their strategy of celebrity product endorsements. According to statistics, almost 20% of all advertisements in the United States feature celebrities or endorsed products, and these numbers are even higher abroad.

Cigna’s $27 million investment buys them three weeks of placement on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”