There was a time when television commercials were considered the essential ingredient in any advertising campaign.
In these days of multi-media promotions and endless below-the-line activities, marketers are looking for other methods to break through the advertising clutter.
Promotions are regarded as a successful alternative. Beyond mere sponsorship deals, in joint promotions advertisers may also benefit from naming rights. Their product might be integrated with a popular TV series or sporting event.
Advertisers also take a more subtle approach by providing the funding to produce documentaries for commercial television and cable networks.
Typically a documentary theme would be chosen on a topic designed to enhance the "brand image" of the product. For example an air-conditioning manufacturer might choose documentaries with a green-earth theme or energy conservation.
Television commercials will probably never disappear from the marketing mix, but promotions, documentaries and series sponsorships will continue to play an ever increasing role in building brands.