Marketing Blitz for ‘Tony Danza’

Jul 25, 2004  •  Post A Comment

With two promotional tie-ins, a fleet of trucks and a six-city press tour on tap, Buena Vista Television is going all-out to shake up a difficult daytime market with the introduction of “The Tony Danza Show.”

Already on board are national tie-ins with advertisers Unilever and restaurant chain The Olive Garden.

“The one thing all the syndicators are dealing with is that it’s getting tougher and tougher to get your message through in a crowded marketplace,” said Sal Sardo, executive VP of marketing, Buena Vista Television. “We have to allow for a little more time to get the message out there and reach the frequency we need. That’s why our campaign started in mid-June, when in years gone by it might have launched in mid-July.”

“The Tony Danza Show” will debut Sept. 13 across the country. Mr. Sardo noted that while having a household name connected with the venture made his job easier, the campaign for the daytime strip was still one of the largest and most comprehensive he has worked on.

“As a marketer, you love getting an assignment like this-we weren’t trying to build a new brand but rather extend an existing one,” he said. “Further, this existing brand had only positive attributes. There was no negative baggage to overcome.”

Still, ghosts of past canceled talk shows from all the studios continue to remind executives of the importance of refining their messages to the finicky daytime audience. For a series such as “Tony Danza,” Buena Vista executives placed three objectives in its marketing plan. The first is to capitalize on the celebrity’s existing attributes. Second, reposition the brand in the consumer’s mind: from actor/entertainer to talk show host. And third, give the daytime audience a good understanding of what the new series will be like.

Keys to that plan will be traditional campaign tools, including national ad buys, local ad buys, press and publicity, national promotions and Disney/ABC synergy. The company will place “Tony Danza” advertising in a number of traditional places such as Lifetime Television, Food Network, People magazine and Parade, and has also tapped resources such as Target, where in-store monitors will promote the show. In addition, Mr. Danza will embark on a five-day, six-city press tour to promote the show.

“One of the advantages of being in the daytime talk business for so long with a perennial hit like `Live With Regis and Kelly’ is that we’ve come to know this audience so well,” Mr. Sardo said.

As for the fleet of trucks, Mr Sardo said, “We’ve had an interest in buying big rig truck sides for years, but it’s not very efficient when those trucks are traveling city to city or state to state. We’ve finally found the right company that has the right formula-truck routes that stay within the city and its outlying suburban areas. These are in effect traveling `spectacular’ billboards. The impact is tremendous.”

The Unilever promotion began in June with the All detergent “Small Chef, Big Mess” challenge that searches for messy kid cooks. The promotion will go into 48 million homes,” he said. “If we were to buy that on our own, we wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

With The Olive Garden partnership, the restaurant chain will sponsor Mr. Danza’s weekly cooking segment on the show and feature a Tuscany Sweepstakes, where the prize is a trip to Italy.