‘Shield’ second season to receive push from FX

Jan 6, 2003  •  Post A Comment

FX is launching a massive marketing campaign for the sophomore season of its controversial cop show “The Shield,” and it’s expecting much less resistance from advertisers this time.

“The Shield” opened to hot ratings and heated debate last March. The show features gritty police action and hard language about a sometimes politically incorrect cop who regularly bends rules. Some national advertisers stayed away because of its strong content, illustrating a conundrum faced by broadcast networks trying to draw big audiences with cutting-edge content that pay TV networks such as HBO, with shows like “The Sopranos,” regularly pull in.

But advertiser attitude toward the “The Shield” is now anticipated to change, thanks to a 2002 Emmy award won by headliner Michael Chiklis. The win lends the program a quality aura that will be heavily touted in the new marketing effort for the series, which begins airing again Jan. 7 at 10 p.m. “It’s quality TV; that’s what people need to understand,” said Chris Carlisle, executive VP for marketing and promotion at FX, owned by News Corp.

The new TV, print and outdoor ads prominently feature stark black-and-white images of Mr. Chiklis, who plays Detective Vic Mackey, and other characters. Some of the images running on FX-six spots in all-were produced by famed photographer Albert Watson. All creative is being produced in-house at FX. “There were six different commercials focusing on six different characters, showing their faces and hands,” Mr. Carlisle said. In the spots, he said, “They are hearing their voices inside their heads” as part of a teaser campaign.

Other TV creative launched last week includes “Sopranos”-like stoic shots of Mr. Chiklis with a voice-over calling the program “The most intense show on TV.” Last year, it was pitched with a similar tagline, “Too intense for network TV,” but this year the TV and radio spots hasten to also mention Mr. Chiklis’ Emmy.

FX is running TV spots on 45 cable networks, including Court TV, BET and USA Network. “The Shield” will be promoted with spot cable in 30 markets and radio in 30 to 35 markets to target adults 18 to 49. In addition, FX’s sibling Fox Broadcasting Co. has been airing promos.

Despite advertiser resistance last year, the show was a top 10 cable program, averaging a 2.8 Nielsen Media Research rating and 3.2 million viewers.#