Campaigns of Distinction: Joan & Melissa

Jun 20, 2005  •  Post A Comment

By Sheree R. Curry

Special to TelevisionWeek

When fashionistas Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa Rivers make snarky remarks about what’s haute and what’s not on the red carpet these days, they’re doing so from their new home on the TV Guide Channel after nearly a decade on E! And thanks to a large-scale media blitz that Promax President and CEO Jim Chabin called “guerrilla marketing at its best,” the move made a big splash.

To brand its move from short-form to long-form programming and announce the critiquing duo’s arrival, TV Guide unveiled its largest-ever consumer and trade marketing campaign.

One commercial featured Joan and Melissa Rivers, in high heels and evening gowns, literally rolling up a red carpet and carrying it to their new home on the TV Guide Channel. The point, said Doug Yates, senior VP of marketing for the TV group at TV Guide, was that “without Joan and Melissa, the red carpet is just carpet.”

What really turned heads was a “street team” stunt in which ladies clad in evening gowns and men sporting tuxedos poured out of limousines around Hollywood. The gowns featured images of the Riverses as well as decals with specific tune-in signage for the Golden Globes. The formally clad models also rolled out red carpets and handed out masks of Joan Rivers.

Then there were the quirky print ads, such as one showing the Riverses on the red carpet, mocking a celebrity who unknowingly had her dress caught in her underwear. There were also bus shelters and kiosks across New York and Los Angeles featuring reflective posters, so that consumers could see themselves next to life-size images of the elder Ms. Rivers asking, “Is that what you’re wearing?”

The network’s marketing team created animated Joan and Melissa Rivers characters early on-before meeting with the live duo. “We thought we were just going to use the characters in our tease campaign, but our affiliate partners really loved these animated characters, and it turned out to be a real positive for us,” Mr. Yates said.

TV Guide also flexed its internal marketing muscle by putting the two women on a January cover of the TV Guide magazine, on its interactive programming guide and on TVGuide.com.

“The way that this campaign permeated every part of our company was truly unprecedented,” Mr. Yates said. “The campaign really reinforced our positioning that we are a leader in [entertainment programming] and will be a long-term player.”

Also receiving an award will be Todd McNulty, VP of on-air promotion, TV Guide Channel.

Doug Yates

Title: Senior VP, marketing, TV Group, TV Guide

How long in current position: Since October 2003

Year of birth: 1966

Place of birth: Los Altos, Calif.

Who knew? Mr. Yates hasn’t missed a USC home football game in more than 10 years, and has missed only five away games.