Il Collegio – how Rai Pubblicita transformed the classical TV spot into branded stories


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Background information

This week’s egtabite showcases how the Italian sales house Rai Pubblicità seamlessly integrated the brand of sanitary products Lines into a successful series – boosting the awareness of the brand while addressing gender stereotypes and discrimination.

Back to the past

Lines has been the protagonist of a commercial miniseries that ran on Rai2 during the docu-reality Il Collegio in three editions from 2019 to 2021. By placing its commercials during the series’ most valuable ad breaks, Lines became a recurring feature of the show.

The docu-reality features a group of contemporary teenagers who leave behind their family, social networks and the inseparable telephones to live in a boarding school following the rules of the past. Boys and girls got the opportunity to experience life of past eras – from the 50s to 90s – together with its customs, trends and great innovations.

The client’s objective was to engage a younger audience, increase brand recognition and highlight the product advantages as part of a comprehensive communication strategy against discrimination and gender stereotypes.

The project’s strength lies in its ability to transform the traditional advertising space into a short moment of branded entertainment through the development of unique and constantly-evolving subjects (branded stories) that use the structure and distribution method of TV series.

Each episode of the stories features the protagonists of past editions debating facts, taboos, and untrue myths about menstruation and tampons, all conveyed through creative solutions that have brought social trends to TV such as choreographies in TikTok’s style, unboxing or simulating podcasts. The tone of voice of the campaign follows the one of the program, in line for the target audience.

For each edition, original 45″ subjects were aired on Rai2 and a shortened 30″ version on RaiPlay and Rai@YouTube linked to the program’s VOD content.

Rai Pubblicità is aware that by developing branded material that is in line with the tales portrayed in the show and the brand values, it can draw viewers’ attention, help them remember it, and help them appreciate the commercial message. The strong contextualisation of the commercial message in the program creates editorial continuity and a more engaging experience for the audience.

Creative minds think alike

The brand integration team at Rai Pubblicità oversaw the design and execution of the campaign, which was done in association with the media agency Media Italia, the production company Gothacom, and the advertising agency Armando Testa.

Fitting results

To give some data – Il Collegio’s fifth season (2020) garnered the highest number of viewers, with an unparalleled audience of viewers in the demographic target under-55 in 6 out of 8 nights of the show, and gaining a first place as the most-watched program of the fall on Rai’s VOD platform RaiPlay with 46.5 million views. In addition, the campaign recorded peak level of share of 72,2% on the female age target 15 to 19.

Some scenes from the branded stories have gone viral and were unexpectedly recorded by influencers with millions of followers, obtaining excellent performances.

The social influence of the protagonists of the television series helped the campaign gain more traction by impulsively posting behind-the-scenes photos or information about special events on their social media pages.

In light of the great results, the client decided to partner in three editions of the program.

Laura D’Ausilio, Head of the Special Initiatives of ​​Rai Pubblicità, explained: “Rai Pubblicità is aware of how much the coherence between the stories told in the program and the values ​​of the brand is the real factor that creates attention, memory and appreciation of the commercial message.”