Ben Silverman Chimes In

NBC chimes return to on-air promos with push from Ben Silverman. 7/06/2008 06:03:00 PM Eastern

The chimes are back at NBC. Ben Silverman’s fondness for the network’s glory days is popping up again in the form of a new “Chime In” campaign that will now be tagged to all on-air promotions.

The G-E-C notes that have been a signature of the Peacock network since it was only a radio signal are returning to the broadcast network after years on ice in the General Electric profile.

NBC ChimesAnd it all started with the NBC Entertainment co-chair, whose taste for nostalgia has led to remakes like Knight Riderand American Gladiators, and who has been known to bang a set of chimes while on a phone call.

“Ben is a big fan of the chimes,” said Jim Vescera, executive vice president of on-air advertising for The NBC Agency. “And that is sort of how this began.”

The campaign recalls the network’s “Must See TV” heyday that preceded its current primetime struggles. Indeed, the last time the chimes were a signature on NBC was in the late 1990s, when stars including Jerry Seinfeld could be seen in network promos banging giant chimes.

The new Chime In campaign, now running with every promo, will ramp up during NBC’s coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games next month and hit its crescendo during the fall season, according to Vescera.

But Vescera is bullish on the network campaign.

“We’ve got them. Others wish they had them. And we decided that we had ignored them long enough,” he said.

And Vescera hopes that in today’s increasingly cacophonous media environment, anything that reminds viewers what network they’re watching is a good thing.

“We’re re-embracing the fun of the past,” he added. “It’s such a challenging environment that there’s a tendency to spend less time on branding and more time on promotion. We still want ratings. We still want to win time periods. The trick is finding a blend between what we call topical or episodic promotion and also re-enforcing that sense of place, re-embracing the brand.”

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