`GMA’ singing a new song

Aug 27, 2001  •  Post A Comment

“Good Morning America” is out to convince viewers that they’ll have fun, fun, fun when they turn the dial to ABC in the morning.
Not since the ABC News morning show moved into its Times Square studios in September 1999 has it unleashed so aggressive a promotional campaign as the multimedia, multimillion-dollar blitz it is launching after Labor Day to convince audiences “Good Things Are Happening.”
There will be print and cable buys, taxi-top signs, urban-shelter posters and billboards in the top 10 markets and some key midsize markets, said Alan Ives, vice president/creative director, ABC News advertising and promotion, who said the off-network component probably will start the second week of September in New York and Los Angeles.
“GMA” wants to recapture or replace the advertiser-preferred viewers it has lost over the last season. Its two competitors on NBC and CBS on average gained women 18 to 49 and women 25 to 54 in the 2000-01 season compared with 1999-2000. “GMA,” the second-ranked morning show, was the only one of the three network news shows to show demographic erosion across the board last season, dropping 16 percent among women 18 to 49 and 13 percent among women 25 to 54.
So the cable spots are likely to be on channels where those lost viewers tend to congregate. Lifetime, VH1, Discovery and “the CNNs of the world” are among those under consideration, Mr. Ives said.
The new slogan came to “GMA” in a song recommended by former PolyGram Records executive Holly Green, who worked with “GMA” executive producer Shelley Ross on a previous campaign. “Good Things Are Happening” was co-written by Bill Deasy, the singer-songwriter-guitarist who performs the pop toe-tapper in a music-video-style promotion that went into heavy rotation on the network Aug. 20.
“I think saturation is the goal,” Ms. Ross said.
Mr. Deasy flirted with national fame during six years with the Gathering Field, a roots rock band from which he broke away to try a solo career. Now he’s front and center in the video by Crossroads Television, shot by director Tom Kreugger before a green background at New York City’s Silvercup Studios.
On air, we see Mr. Deasy, cast as the storyteller, gently bopping around the mammoth stage, strumming his guitar and singing a song that makes no mention of smelling coffee or frying bacon or waking up smarter, all staples in the morning-show lexicon. There still will be topic-driven, time-specific promos for “GMA,” but “Happening” is all about promising viewers a good time if they watch “GMA.”
Behind Mr. Deasy play quick-cut images-unaccompanied by sound or identification-of “GMA’s” personalities laughing, smiling and singing.
Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer, whose “temporary” gigs as co-anchors of the show have already lasted 21/2 years, are most frequently seen in the promo that also gives glimpses of such family members as Antonio Mora, Tony Perkins, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Elizabeth Vargas, Lara Spencer, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Claire Shipman and Emeril Lagasse, the chef who has a sitcom on NBC this fall.
Other family members-including Dr. Tim Johnson, Joel Siegel, Ann Pleshette Murphy, Greg Murphy and Don Dahler-will make appearances in future videos. Conspicuously absent is Jack Ford, who announced last week that since he’s not going to be the next Charlie Gibson. He’s looking to leave ABC News.
“Celebrities will pop in and out,” Ms. Ross said. Whoopi Goldberg and Ricky Martin can be glimpsed in the first video incarnation. Promos will be updated every week, Mr. Ives said.
Musical promos are not new to morning shows. NBC’s “Today” tweaked a ’30s standard, when from 1993 through 1996 audiences hummed “What a Difference `Today’ Makes.” Then there was “Start With “Today,” a song co-written by Frank Radice, the East Coast senior vice president of the NBC Agency. Since 1998 there has been “America’s First Family,” an award-winning song also co-written by Mr. Radice.
Mr. Radice, who calls “Today’s” current approach-music that makes way for sound bites in the clips designed to make a nonviewer say, “Geez, I missed that”-“sort of a musical documentary” that shows the “Today” ensemble as having both serious and happy-smiley sides.
“I like it,” he said. “I think it’s a great little tool. I was not surprised to see `Good Morning America’ do it.”
Steve Friedman, the executive producer who positioned “Today” for its current No. 1 streak by putting the NBC morning show in a windowed, street-level studio that made it as much tourist attraction as TV show, and who now helms “The Early Show” on CBS, said the music-video concept is “very effective if you have a strong show, because it reinforces the family atmosphere. … It reinforces what people think about your show.
“It’s a tougher sell in second or third place because you’re trying to attract an audience that is not watching you.”