‘The Bachelorette’ returns with drive-in premiere hosted by PopSugar, ABC, YouTube TV

Linda J. Dodson

Table of Contents

Dive Brief:

  • Reality show “The Bachelorette” next week will return for its 16th season with its first drive-in experience before the network premiere. Women’s lifestyle website PopSugar, broadcaster ABC and YouTube TV are collaborating on the live event that takes place in Los Angeles on Oct. 13, per an announcement emailed to Marketing Dive.
  • Two hundred guests will be invited to park their cars overlooking The Grove, an upscale shopping district in Los Angeles, where a DJ will perform. Attendees can participate in a trivia quiz about “The Bachelorette” and a “grand entrance-worthy” photo opportunity.
  • The event reflects how experiential marketing is evolving during the pandemic and will have strict safety guidelines in place. Dinner, snacks and treats will be delivered to the cars of attendees, with more surprises to be announced. The season premiere of “The Bachelorette” will follow at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, per the announcement.

Dive Insight:

PopSugar, ABC and YouTube TV’s collaboration on an experiential event for the premiere of “The Bachelorette” aims to engage fans of the reality show in a live event that also provides safety measures amid the pandemic. By asking attendees to participate in a drive-in event, organizers can enforce social-distancing rules while also providing an immersive experience for couples seeking a date night.

The unique partnership between a digital publisher, a traditional TV network and a streaming TV channel is a testament to the enduring popularity of “The Bachelorette” — even though ratings have dropped somewhat — and how big-event original programming has become scarce during the health crisis when in-person production has slowed down.

“The Bachelorette” reportedly filmed in a quarantine bubble to address health concerns and was the first major show to go back into production following pandemic-related shutdowns. For PopSugar, a leading digital lifestyle brand for women, the partnership makes sense, as the publisher reports that its audience is highly engaged with content related to “The Bachelorette.”

Group Nine, which owns PopSugar and other digital media titles, has had other brand partnerships this year. In July, Old Navy started selling its first clothing collection aimed at kids ages 10 to 13 as part of the Gap-owned brand’s collaboration with PopSugar.

The drive-in event is another sign of how the pandemic has disrupted experiential marketing, which typically features in-person activations at stores, malls, theaters, restaurants and other public gathering places to engage consumers with a branded experience. After weeks of self-isolation during pandemic lockdowns in the spring, consumers showed signs of wanting to get back outside during the warmer summer months. Drive-in movies experienced a brief comeback as people sought entertainment outside the home and avoided theaters, many of which operated at limited capacity or remained closed in major cities like Los Angeles and New York.

Other marketers are also developing experiential marketing activations to engage consumers while social distancing measures limit in-person contact during the pandemic. Streaming media platform Hulu this month plans to host a “Huluween” event at Griffith Park in Los Angeles that guides drivers along a haunted path before stopping to screen a classic horror movie, Adweek reported. Impossible Foods, the maker of plant-based burgers, in August created a pop-up car wash to give away food while urging people to share the experience on social media.

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