Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution is launching
three new off-net sitcoms into syndication on Monday, Sept. 13: The New
Adventures of Old Christine, Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
The challenge for any TV marketer tasked with promoting
off-net fare is to make something old seem new again. Many TV viewers know that
off-net shows exist, but their familiarity with these shows may end there.
Warner Bros.' marketing efforts are three-fold: first, tease potential viewers
about the shows' content. Next, go deeper so that viewers are familiar with the
shows' storylines. As the premiere date gets closer, get more specific with
promos, including day-and-date tune-in information. And get those promos on all
possible platforms, whether that's TV, on Facebook, on Twitter, or at the local
"We're doing a
four-month campaign with multiple phases to engage viewers on several touch
points and many platforms," says Susan Kantor, WBDTD's executive vice president of marketing. "We always do market
research before we go into our consumer campaign so we know what will resonate
with viewers. That helps us understand how to differentiate each show."
which aired on CBS for five seasons and was just cancelled in May, is perhaps
the broadest of the three shows and it also has the advantage of clearly
appealing to women. Old Christine stars
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a single mom who constantly has to deal with her
ex-husband and his new wife, also named Christine, as she tries to live her own
life, run her business and date.
To inform viewers that Christine
is coming to their market five days a week, the studio shot spots with Louis-Dreyfus
in which she would see her therapist, for example, and in the end say, "put me
down for five days a week."
WBDTD also shot customizable promos with Louis-Dreyfus that
allowed stations to insert their call letters or channel throughout. "Stations always
want customized station IDs and we try to accommodate all of those asks," says
Off-air, WBDTD is teaming with 250 nail salons across the
country to offer free manicures and special Old
Christine promotions. Viewers also will see promotions of Old Christine show up on the Val-Pak
coupons that they receive in the mail.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
and Entourage each require a
different sort of promotion. Both shows will air in late-fringe and late-night
and are a bit edgier, coming off of HBO. They also have been known to appeal to
men, so it's Warner Bros.' job to explain to women why they should watch too.
In Curb Your
Enthusiasm, former Seinfeld executive
producer plays a version of himself in this sitcom stocked full of David's Hollywood
friends. David's comedy is hilarious, but it's also an acquired taste.
"Larry David is actually relatable to both men and women,"
says Kantor. "He's very funny in that he says what you are thinking. People also
really enjoy seeing Larry interacting with real people. We realized that
sometimes Larry's perspective on life can be a little off-putting, so we wanted
to make sure we addressed that. Our tag line for that show is ˜so wrong yet so
funny,' which forgives the viewers for finding Larry's crazy behavior funny."
As for Entourage,
a show about a rising Hollywood star and his friends, Warner Bros. is focusing
on the fact that women enjoy the guys' friendships and the way they banter back
and forth with each other more than they enjoy the their Hollywood lifestyle or
the show's celebrity in-jokes.
"We concentrated on it being an ensemble buddy company," says Kantor. "Our tagline for that one is 'Entourage: everybody needs one."
Warner Bros.' also designed spots to promote Curb and Entourage together since the two shows run back-to-back in more
than 75% of markets. "We came up with two campaigns," says Kantor. "'Hot
and Bothered' when Entourage runs
before Curb, and 'The Bald and The
Beautiful' when the shows run in reverse.
Part of our marketing strategy was to maximize our dollars and do a lot
of marketing that combines the two shows."
The studio also created one-to-three minute interstitials for
each show that stations can insert when they have space to fill at the end of
a sports event, for example and that "really tell the story of these shows," says Kantor.
Besides all of the on-air promos, Warner Bros. is focusing
on driving tune-in to the shows and in promoting the shows on the ground in
In Los Angeles, Warner Bros. has placed branded food trucks
all over town, where people can get Entourage-themed
meals at food carts wrapped in Entourage
branding. (Drama-dy Mumbai Butter Chicken, anyone? How about a Veg-E Salad?)
In markets across the country, red carpets and photographers
will spring up at local malls and other high traffic areas, taking people's
pictures and promoting the show. Warner Bros. also is running sweepstakes for
each of the three shows and promoting them via local radio deejays.
"Off-air events help us extend our reach and our frequency," says Kantor. "It's all about viewer engagement and getting people involved in
the shows wherever they are, whether that's at the mall or online."