Net’s Other Off-Air Plans also Offbeat

Sep 5, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The WB Network’s online efforts to promote “Supernatural” go beyond the ordinary, and so does the rest of its marketing campaign.

One unique place the network is putting its message is on special mirrors in bathrooms in bars. The mirrors contain motion detectors, and when someone comes within 2 feet of the mirror a light comes on and an eerie image appears of a woman bursting into flame while pinned by mysterious forces to the ceiling.

The mirror ad is an example of how the network is looking to promote the show in places that are unexpected and in places where people are likely to discuss the show, said Bob Bibb, co-president of marketing for The WB.

The network is also looking to let young men know that this isn’t the typical female-skewing WB drama, said Mr. Bibb’s partner in marketing, Lew Goldstein.

To convey the show’s paranormal plot, the network has also bought coffee cup sleeves printed with thermal ink. Hot java will make the spooky picture of the haunted woman on the ceiling appear. “These things have been around,” Mr. Goldstein said, “but how do you make them work organically with what you’re trying to sell?” In this case, he said, it’s a pretty good fit.

The network will also distribute rubber wristbands that glow in the dark.

To reach men, The WB has secured advertising integrated into popular video games, including “Splinter Cell,” “Anarchy,” “Planetside” and “Swat 4.” When those games are downloaded, billboards in the cityscape will contain images from “Supernatural.” Ads for the show will also appear on in-store video monitors at EB Games outlets.

The WB is also advertising in other unique locations. In PATH train tunnels between New Jersey and New York, the network has had installed still images. When the train runs past them, they appear to move like frames of a film strip, creating the equivalent of a 20-second film.

Another location where ads for the show can be found is on the tops of gas pumps. “There’s nothing else to look at there,” Mr. Goldstein said.

The WB is also supporting the show with a broad range of ads in more traditional media, including broadcast, cable and satellite TV, consumer magazines ranging from Entertainment Weekly to Mad magazine and gamer publications, radio, outdoor and in theaters.

Mr. Bibb said the network puts a lot of effort into making sure its promo materials look good. One way to judge is by how quickly its posters wind up on eBay. One for “Supernatural” disappeared 18 hours after going up.

A bus stop shelter at Oak and Hollywood Way in Burbank, Calif., opposite The WB’s offices is the site of frequent thefts.

“The key is we think we’ve got a show,” Mr. Bibb said. “We want as many people [as possible] to experience this show.”