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Promos for ‘Will & Grace’ sing

Jun 24, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Warner Bros. isn’t relying on the same old song and dance as it launches “Will & Grace” into syndication this fall.
The distributor has enlisted the cast and crew of the show-along with touches of the rock group Queen and bandleader Louis Prima-to lend a spark to the show’s promotional campaign.
“This was one of the most fun launches we’ve ever done,” said Yelena Garafolo, senior VP of Warner Bros. Corporate Marketing & Advertising Services. “The cast and producers brought a lot to the table, and we opted to maximize the appeal of the relationship between the characters in the show. What they gave us I don’t think has ever been done before.”
With two full days to shoot, the effort created enough material to stagger new promos throughout the summer, including a rendition of Louis Prima’s “Hey Boy, Hey Girl” recorded by the cast. That promo is set to ship the week of Aug. 26. Other promos, including “My Best Friend”; “Awards,” featuring a series of clips of the numbers of kudos won by the show; “5 Days a Week”; and “Too Busy” will also air in staggered launch dates throughout the summer.
“The main message we wanted to get across was `Five Days a Week,’ and it was our goal to make sure Will, Grace, Jack and Karen were never out of character,” said Lauren Dansey, VP, Warner Bros. Corporate Marketing & Advertising Services. “We knew that there was a significant amount of Broadway experience between the actors, so for us, recording the song was a nice touch to everything that had been put together for the show.”
Warner Bros. executives consulted extensively with producers as well as with stations and station groups such as Tribune to determine the creative direction of the campaign.
The group worked with Tribune station group creative executive Rick Felty, whose group currently carries two of the top three off-network sitcoms already in play, Warner Bros.’ “Friends” and King World’s “Everybody Loves Raymond.” “Raymond” bowed last year to powerful ratings in syndication, most recently ranking third in the off-network group with a 5.5 Nielsen Media Research household average. That score was clearly a sigh of relief to distributors, who have been unable to score big in the genre since “Friends” hit in 1998. This year “Will & Grace” will join “That ’70s Show” and “Dharma & Greg” in off-network bows, with “Malcolm in the Middle” looming on the horizon.
“This is really starting to feel like a `Friends’ in terms of its importance to the stations, and we are working with the stations to share strategies and information like never before to make this a success,” Ms. Garafalo said. “We decided up front to make sure to differentiate the off-network run from its network airing with the `Five Days a Week’ slogan. We also discovered that everybody wanted clip spots to highlight the play between the characters, so we made sure to incorporate those into the campaign.”
“Will and Grace” will debut in syndication Sept. 23. The series will run on the Lifetime cable network beginning in 2005.