Legendary Push for ‘Seeker’
Show Mines ‘Xena’ Territory While Keeping Its Distance
Promoting something like Disney-ABC’s “Legend of the Seeker” is a hefty challenge.
A fantasy series based on the popular books by Terry Goodkind, the show shares themes, shooting locations and its executive producing team with “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.”
However, “Seeker” is trying to get in line less with “Xena’s” campiness, and more with recent sweeping epics such as the “Harry Potter” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” feature films.
Shot in New Zealand and premiering this weekend in 95% of the country, including all of the top 50 markets, “Seeker” follows Richard Cypher, who after discovering his own magical powers teams with the mysterious Kahlan and wizard Zedd to take down an evil tyrant.
In researching for promotion, Disney-ABC was “extremely pleased to see that ‘Legend of the Seeker’ had extraordinary strength among general television viewers. We found that ‘Hercules’ and ‘Xena’ were still very favorably remembered,” Sal Sardo, executive vice president of marketing at Disney-ABC Domestic Television, said.
Tapping into “Xena’s” success, “Seeker’s” promotional push includes a sneak preview of the first eight minutes of the show packed in a half-hour special hosted by “Xena’s” Lucy Lawless.
The advertising blitz for “Seeker” also includes billboards, trailers in 9,000 movie theaters, ads running in Targets and Wal-Marts, as well as Spanish-language promos. And a wrinkle that “Xena” never really dealt with: online promotion distribution.
The eight minutes in the Lawless special also are being distributed on the Web to fan sites and station affiliate sites alike.
Starting today, the first half-hour of the show’s two-hour premiere is being made available for free download on iTunes. Disney-ABC also is trying to mobilize fans to disseminate information about the show online to peers who might be interested.
Disney-ABC is still in talks about distribution and streaming of full episodes online.
Despite being executive produced by the same team behind “Xena”—Robert Tapert and Sam Raimi—“Seeker” is subtly distancing itself from “Xena” by focusing more on special effects and production values and less on the campy aspects that became associated with “Warrior Princess.”
“Our research also helped us identify the key marketing drivers for the show. Action/adventure, strong characters, universal stories of good vs. evil, special effects and spectacular settings were all very important factors,” Mr. Sardo said. “We wanted all elements [of ‘Legend’s’ promotional campaign] to have the feel of a major motion picture.
“After seeing spots and trailers, our audiences are often surprised to learn this is a new television series, not a new movie,” he added.