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NBC Spreads ‘Office’ Gossip

Mar 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

NBC, owner of one of the noisiest promotional platforms in the television industry, is trying to build old-fashioned word of mouth for its new comedy series “The Office.”

In addition to the spots currently bombarding millions of broadcast and cable viewers, NBC this week will mail directors’ cuts of the series to a select list of about 700 people identified as influential and opinion leaders.

“It’s a small number, but the whole point of word-of-mouth advertising is to target the right people,” said Jodi Flicker, senior marketing director at the NBC Agency.

The series is schedule to premiere March 24.

Among the groups receiving the DVDs are 100 CEOs of American companies who are younger than 40 and the creative directors of the top 100 U.S. advertising agencies. NBC has also worked with the marketing consultancy Youth Intelligence to put together a list of what it calls industry trend forecasters.

“The content of `The Office’ lends itself to this kind of marketing,” Ms. Flicker said. The show is based on the award-winning British sitcom of the same name and is shot documentary-style with no laugh track.

“The comedy isn’t for everybody,” Ms. Flicker said. “We’re trying to get the early buzz by reaching out to trendsetters and getting their early buy-in, so they can be spreading the word about the show.”

NBC is banking on the show appealing particularly to young men in the 18 to 34 demographic, with age 27 the sweet spot.

The network is sending the show to ad agency creative directors because they track trends in entertainment and fashion, Ms. Flicker said. “That’s why companies hire ad agencies to market their brands. They’ve got a good sense of what’s cool.”

Young CEOs “also can influence the opinion of others,” she said.

NBC has already started to run promos for the show, and Ms. Flicker said they are different from spots for most other new NBC shows and feature sound bites and clips from the program. “We let the show speak for itself, and they’ve tested very well,” she said.

The promotional campaign will take advantage of airtime on NBC and the cable networks owned by NBC Universal. “If you’ve got it, use it,” Ms. Flicker said.

But while the NBCU outlets provide a very broad reach, “What we tried to do is zero-based planning and look at a property, who it appeals to, and try to target our campaign to really get to that audience,” Ms. Flicker said. “This one is particularly targeted more toward that young, male audience.”

NBC will buy spots will on radio, and ads will appear in newspapers and magazines. The network is also planning some publicity stunts in major markets featuring street teams that will promote the show.