By Sharon Donovan -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/20/2004 8:00:00 PM
Executive vice president, creative and marketing
Senior vice president/senior creative director
Senior vice president, advertising and promotion
Senior vice president
Ever mindful of a mentor's advice years ago, Len Fogge built a marketing team bar none. Born of an effort to "always make sure the person behind you is better than you," the team is Fogge's not-so-secret weapon, says the Showtime executive vice president of creative and marketing.
"It's about working collaboratively and creating an atmosphere that allows people to be open, honest, and creative, whether they succeed or fail," he says. "It's about discouraging mediocrity and encouraging risk, because playing it safe is just okay."
Maybe it's such a love fest at Showtime's marketing division because the staff checked their egos at the door, following Fogge's example.
But marketing and promotions are only as good as the programming and the support from the top, Fogge says, referring to Bob Greenblatt, president of entertainment, and Matt Blank, chairman and CEO.
The Fogge team has had plenty of edgy programming fodder on which to ply their creative wits. A few samples:
When The L Word series premiered in January, promotions split into two tracts to pinpoint audiences for the drama about the lives, careers, and romantic pursuits of a group of young gay and straight women in Los Angeles. One marketing plan focused on the lesbian audience with a multifaceted campaign tagged "Finally, A Full Season of Lesbian Drama" and aimed at grassroots organizations, via chat rooms, a Web site, and fan sites.
On another front, to broaden the audience base to include straight women, a message described the show with the tagline "Same Sex. Different City."
When the hourlong weekly series Queer as Folk returned in April for its fourth season, the marketers sharpened the message. The 14-episode offering provided a window into the rarely seen world of gay men and women and challenged audiences with its provocative storylines. It also challenged the marketing team to invent new taglines to communicate the season's edgy content: "Get Folked," "So Gay," and "Damn Straight" got to the point. Advertising ran on several cable networks, while a national print ad campaign appeared in general-market, entertainment and gay-targeted publications.
When CBS opted not to run The Reagans, Showtime picked up the movie and aired it four weeks later. Fogge's team went into high marketing gear. With the tagline promising "The Love Story. The Legacy, The Controversy, The Reagans," Fogge says, the marketing plan was intended to be simple and elegant—and illustrative of Showtime's bold programming position. Says Fogge, "It was an opportunity to suggest to viewers the advantages of a non-advertiser-supported premium channel with the programming agility to take hot-potato projects when conventional broadcasters bail out."
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