Show uses both traditional promos as well as digital and social campaigns to launch off-network sitcom

To promote the syndicated run of its hit sitcom Black-ish, premiering Monday, Sept. 17, Disney-ABC Home Entertainment and Television Distribution went both broad and narrow.

On the broad side, Disney-ABC created the standard 15- and 30-second promos for TV stations to air leading up to the show’s debut and going forward. These promos drew from the show’s many funny moments to reveal the Johnsons’ relatable and multigenerational family dynamic.

“We’ve framed our local black-ish initiatives to be as flexible as possible, taking cues from our station partners,” said Vicky Free, senior vice president, marketing, Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and Television Distribution. “We tailored the messaging to be most relevant to the audience composition of each market and we delivered a wide range of spots that will suit each station’s individual needs. With black-ish in particular, there’s something for everyone and the chosen moments are intended to reinforce the modern, mainstream, multicultural themes of the show and its smart, relatable humor.”

But Disney-ABC also created several campaigns meant to live solely on social and digital platforms.

“When launching a successful network show into off-net syndication, such as black-ish, we have the advantage of being able to hyper-target existing fans by leveraging data and key learnings from its network run,” said Free. “We’re also able to build our own off-net fan base from the ground up with new social handles and content to tap into potential new audience segments based on similar interests and demographics.”

“These days you can’t be successful unless you really have strong social and digital programs in place,” said Tom Connor, VP of creative marketing at Disney-ABC.

The team riffed on Dre’s (Anthony Anderson) love of shoes for one promotion called “Kick It With The Johnsons” in partnership with Dominic Ciambrone, also known as The Shoe Surgeon, and crowd-funding charity site Omaze to benefit frequent Disney philanthropic partner, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

“The Shoe Surgeon creates these unbelievable custom shoes that celebrities and NFL players knew about but we didn’t. He takes a Nike shoe and completely blings it out,” said Connor.

For this promotion, Ciambrone created five pairs of shoes — one for each weeknight — that Disney-ABC will give away, along with a trip to Los Angeles to attend a table read of the show. Fans will learn about the promotion on Black-ish’s social handles — including those of the Shoe Surgeon and the cast — and be sent to Omaze to enter. Once they arrive at Omaze, they can donate to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for a chance to win.

The campaign will run only online: “This whole promotion was intended to be more viral in nature,” Connor said.

Disney-ABC also has created an opportunity that affiliates airing Black-ish can run in their local markets, whether that’s on air, on the radio or across their social media channels. In “Dish Up the Fun: Dinner with the Johnsons,” Disney-ABC is working with station partners to give away dinner to 20 or 25 families in each market, whether that’s through gift cards or Blue Apron or home delivery — whoever the local station wants to work with to sponsor the promotion. The lucky families will then receive free dinner for a week, which will free them up to watch Black-ish.

For our ‘Dinner with the Johnsons’ local promotion giveaway, we provided the general framework and gave our participating stations several options for the prizing and entry method that can be customized according to what works best for them,” said Free.

Similarly, the team is offering both the “Ask-ish” social and digital activation as well as the “Funny-ish Family in America” contest.

To enter the “Funny-ish” competition, families need to submit videos of themselves doing something they think is funny and then the winning family will win an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles to meet the cast on the set and a VIP tour of the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, Calif.

For the “Ask-ish” interactive poll promotion, fans can answer questions related to the show on social media.

“These are intended to play out the family relationships and their multi-generational nature,” said Connor, “and they will also play up some of the issues that are covered in the show.”

Black-ish, which is in its fifth season on ABC, premieres in broadcast syndication on Monday, Sept. 17. It was created by and is executive produced by Kenya Barris as well as Jonathan Groff, Stacy Traub, Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Helen Sugland, E. Brian Dobbins and Corey Nickerson. It stars Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Fishburne, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin, Jenifer Lewis, Peter Mackenzie and Deon Cole. The series is produced by ABC Studios.

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