Big 6 Promotion Stunts

Aug 29, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Each of the networks is pulling some unique stunts to get its shows launched. Here are a few highlights.


At ABC a priority is bringing back last season’s hits “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” in a big way, said Mike Benson, senior VP of marketing for ABC Entertainment. “We certainly are not sitting back thinking that we’re going to do great again this year,” he said.

For the first time in years, ABC did not produce a season premiere show for its affiliates. Instead, it put together shows that recap the previous seasons of “Housewives” and “Lost.”

For “Housewives,” ABC is bringing back the dry cleaning bags, with a twist. In random dry cleaning bags people will find “Desperate Housewives” T-shirts in addition to their laundry. The bags feature five slogans, one for each of the show’s main characters.

The network also will soon launch a campaign for the show based on the apple image in the program’s opening credits.

An online campaign for “Lost” began in last season’s final episode, in which the URL for fictional Oceanic Air was shown. Over the summer, ABC has been airing spots for Oceanic Air that don’t mention “Lost” or ABC. Mr. Benson calls it “blind marketing.” “

For “Invasion,” ABC.com features a “news special” on all the weird things happening in Florida, where the fictional invasion is taking place.


CBS is promoting its sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” with the online dating service PerfectMatch.com, which will match visitors with characters from the show. CBS has also been distributing T-shirts with catchphrases from the show, such as “Have you met Ted?,” in Steve and Barry’s University Sportswear stores. And the network is holding screenings of the pilot on college campuses.

CBS is supporting its sitcoms via the Valpak coupon distribution service. The “Comedy Is King on CBS Monday” insert will go to 40 million households.


Fox is dressing up street teams in orange prison jumpsuits for its show “Prison Break.” Those “prisoners” will distribute nail files with the show’s logo in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. In New York they will also drive people to locations where they can get prison buzz-cuts and temporary tattoos. (Fox also pre-arranged to give actual tattoos to some people.) For a recent screening, Fox turned an airplane hangar in L.A. into a prison. Guests were processed like prisoners and had to eat off metal trays.


For its show “Surface,” NBC is hitting the beaches in New York and Los Angeles. The campaign will include towels and floating billboards bearing the slogan “There’s something in the water.” Trash containers on the sand will carry the message “It cannot be contained,” and beach umbrellas will read “Protect yourself.”

Barbara Blangiadi, VP of marketing and special projects for The NBC Agency, noted that the floating billboard does not look like a sea monster. The stunt was designed to focus on the mystery of the show rather than to horrify beachgoers.


UPN is pulling out all the stops to launch “Everybody Hates Chris,” the sitcom based on Chris Rock’s youth. The campaign will be bigger than those the network used to launch “Enterprise” or “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” said Rachel Clark, UPN’s senior VP of marketing.

UPN tried to get out early with outdoor ads, which were effective because the show’s title is attention-getting, Ms. Clark said. The network has been handing out bright yellow T-shirts that say “I hate Chris. Doesn’t everybody?” The shirts have been popular, said Ms. Clark, who noted that she saw one sell on eBay for $30. UPN also printed bumper stickers that say, “Honk if you hate Chris.”

As the premiere gets closer, the network is handing out DVDs on the street and as an insert in Entertainment Weekly and is running the full pilot on American Airlines flights.

The WB

For “Supernatural,” The WB has designed an insert that will appear in issues of Us Weekly and Rolling Stone. The cover of the booklet shows a car on a country road. When the booklet is opened, the headlights come on and a sound chip plays an announcer who tells the story of the lead characters, who tackle the supernatural. “Everyone’s looking for the newest thing, but what’s important is to keep it organic to the show,” said Lew Goldstein, co-president of marketing for The WB.

The WB also is mimicking those bus stop bench lawyer ads seen all over Los Angeles and other cities for its show “Just Legal.” The WB’s ads depict the show’s leads, Don Johnson and Jay Baruchel, and note, “Se habla español.”