NBC Agency building tie-ins to young demos

Aug 13, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Looking to feed off the young adults ratings wave from summer reality series “Fear Factor” and “Spy TV,” NBC’s promo domos John Miller and Vince Manze have concocted a pair of cross-media tie-ins for next season with youth-oriented salon Supercuts and the F.Y.E. (For Your Entertainment) music/video chain.
As creators and keepers of NBC’s long-standing “Must-See TV” moniker, both Mr. Miller and Mr. Manze contend that piggybacking on the summer promotion platforms from “Fear Factor,” “Spy TV” and “Weakest Link” has not diminished the Peacock Network’s historically strong brand identity. If anything, the co-presidents of The NBC Agency say the alternative/reality series have already furthered summer viewer awareness for the Peacock Network’s upcoming fall 2001 premieres of scripted dramas and sitcoms.
“Over the previous two decades, starting with `Hill Street Blues,’ `Cheers’ and `L.A. Law’ in the 1980s to `Seinfeld’ and `Friends’ in the 1990s, NBC has built up a `quality’ brand identity where it resonates with many people,” Mr. Miller said. “So when we put in an occasional reality show like `Fear Factor,’ it has not hurt our upscale indexing. There is no diminishment of our upscale brand identity.”
Mr. Manze said NBC’s three reality series are among the top five-rated adult 18 to 34 and 18 to 49 shows this summer.
That is where Mr. Miller said the “NBC/Supercuts Spin and Win Sweepstakes” is looking to build on the young demo momentum, featuring a broad multimedia and in-store campaign to drive awareness of NBC’s 2001-02 season programming.
Central to the tie-in game plan is “NBC Presents The Supercuts Network,” a 90-minute pre-produced tape-seen on monitors in the waiting rooms of Supercuts’ 1,600 retail outlets nationwide-featuring highlights from NBC’s new and returning prime-time series as well as late-night and sports programming.
“Supercuts has a strong customer base among the adult 18 to 34 demo, so it gives us access to a younger audience that we’ve not had as much-except with our summer reality programming,” Mr. Miller said.
The NBC Agency’s production of “The Supercuts Network,” which will be updated in two-week intervals starting Aug. 31, is not unlike what the in-house promo unit already produces for its in-flight highlight reels appearing on United Airline flights, Mr. Miller said.
Tom Cavanagh, star of NBC’s “Ed,” will serve as host of the highlight reel, featuring “Cliffhanger Updates” on last season’s concluding dramas and sitcoms and “Jay Walking,” on-the-street comedy bits from “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”
To kick off the Supercuts sweepstakes promotion, the tie-in partners’ media plan calls for once-per-week print placement in USA Today for four issues, free-standing ad inserts in more than 97 newspapers around the country, spot TV ad buys from Supercuts in 39 markets, local radio spots, and 10 prime-time and five late-night on-air promos on NBC nightly.
There also will be various in-store posters, mirror clings and counter cards in Supercuts locations to hype the sweepstakes. Consumers will be able to pick up Spin and Win game cards at Supercuts outlets or play online at NBC.com. The grand prize is “The Ultimate Hollywood Experience,” an all-expenses-paid vacation for a set visit with NBC series stars; first prize is “his and hers” Suzuki motorcycles and leather jackets; and additional prizes are Casio digital cameras, Sam Goody gift certificates and free Supercuts haircuts.
Mr. Miller and Mr. Manze are also focusing on a show-specific promo tie-in with the F.Y.E. record chain to hype the network’s new 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. (ET) Sunday dramas “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “U.C. Undercover.”
Again, NBC is partnering with Trans World Entertainment Corp., a chain operator of F.Y.E., Record Town, Strawberries, Coconuts and Camelot Music to provide a captive in-store audience among the adults 18 to 34 and 18 to 49 demos.
With Sunday night marking the biggest wholesale change in NBC’s jettisoning its longtime 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. movie franchise for two unproven dramas, The NBC Agency heads have coined a new on-air slogan, “Dramatically Different,” in an attempt to heighten viewer curiosity and tune in. However, the in-store promotion at 1,000 F.Y.E. record outlets will be the “NBC Prime-time Crimetime Sweepstakes” to bring a broader spotlight on NBC’s closing two-hour Sunday block.
Like the Supercuts promotion, the “Prime-time Crimetime Sweepstakes” (Sept. 27-Nov. 4) will feature a variety of in-store displays, free-standing inserts reaching an estimated 8.5 million newspaper readers, direct mail material and 10-second “L&O: Criminal Intent” and “UC” combo on-air spots also hyping the F.Y.E. sweepstakes. Grand prize is a four-day, expenses-paid trip to the Vancouver set of “UC: Undercover,” and a half dozen first-place winners will receive “criminal shopping sprees” at F.Y.E. outlets.
Mr. Miller and Mr. Manze did not express much concern about the other broadcast networks aiming more new firepower against NBC’s cornerstone “Must-See TV” Thursday night lineup. With CBS gaining a Thursday beachhead this past season with “Survivor: The Australian Outback” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” and adding the highly-touted CIA-based drama “The Agency” to its 10 p.m. hour next fall, ad buyers and other industry watchers think the Eye Network may be poised to beat the Peacock in households and total viewers for the night.
Specifically, Mr. Manze and Mr. Miller countered that NBC remains focused on its target hold of the adults 18 to 49 demo on Thursdays and will avoid getting into a “counter-promotion strategy” to target the competing networks’ shows.
“Last season we had the benefit of packaging things that provided their own promotional hook,” Mr. Manze said. “That credit goes to [NBC Entertainment President] Jeff Zucker, where he invented these super-sized episodes [40 minutes in length] for `Friends’ and `Will & Grace,’ which came with the kind of built-in promotional juice we could work off of. And I will dare to guarantee that the hour-long `Friends’ season opener will have a huge [ratings] number to carry us into the new season.”
Louis Chunovic contributed to this report.