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Chabin: “The Train Will Keep Moving Along”

Promax/BDA, the international television-promotions organization, opened its annual Asia Pacific Conference in Mumbai, India, last Tuesday, July 11—the same day that terrorists bombed the city's commuter trains during evening rush hour, killing nearly 200 people.

In a series of phone messages to B&C, Promax CEO Jim Chabin reported that all of the conferees were attending a cocktail reception and were unharmed, and described the mood at the conference.

“Cellphones started going off … at about 6:45 or 7:00,” Chabin said. “We started hearing the local reports. One of the train stations [is] about a mile from the Hyatt where we are meeting.”

Chabin said that Promax members were in London during the bombing a year ago and in New York on 9/11 and noted the familiar sense of confusion and loss in Mumbai.

“People with pictures of their family, at the train station, asking, 'Have you seen my father?' 'Have you seen my wife?'” he said. “It's that sense of 9/11 that is so sad because that look in their eyes is something you've seen before in New York.”

Chabin recounted comments he delivered at the conference the next day, which poignantly touched on the unfortunate coincidence of the chosen theme of the conference: “Changing Platforms Without Missing the Train.”

“The icon we picked for our stage set was a train car, an Indian train,” Chabin said. “The whole conference was themed around different [media] platforms you'll need to master. We picked the icon of the train car as a symbol of community, of moving forward, and of the dynamic aspects of Indian life. And it was the same icon the bombers used to try to discourage everybody.”

All the more reason, Chabin said, to remain steadfast: “Just as we learned in other markets, the one thing we don't want to do is stop the show. So this train will continue to keep moving along.”

Broke Yolk

To hype its new fall season, CBS is hatching an unusual promotion.

In a partnership with the company EggFusion, which prints expiration dates on eggs, the network is stamping its logo and such taglines as “CBS Mondays: Shelling Out Laughs” and “New Grade-A Comedy” for new comedy The Class on more than 35 million eggs.

In turn, CBS will underwrite the freshness and tracking codes on the eggs, which will begin popping up in grocery stores and supermarkets.

Critics gathering for the Television Critics Association conference in Pasadena, Calif., last weekend got a taste of the promotion at a network-sponsored breakfast that featured, yes, omelet stations.

In other fall promotions, the network will deploy Aquacell watercoolers adorned with CBS taglines (don't make us explain this one). But it's another campaign that struck us as ill-advised. The network is printing up postage stamps featuring series stars, including James Woods of Shark and Julia Louis-Dreyfus from The New Adventures of Old Christine.

Of course, everyone knows what happens to stamps: They get cancelled.

No 'Deal' Deal

When NBC announced its promotional partnership with video-sharing site YouTube last month, the network pointed to sitcom The Office and late shows Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno as just the sort of hip, happening NBC shows that savvy Internet users are clamoring to see clips of on YouTube.

Well, according to site-surfing tracker Hitwise, which sifts through the riverbed of ideas to find out which nuggets 10 million Web users are panning for, maybe not.

In the 12 weeks ended July 1, days after the deal was announced, the top four NBC show names/search terms driving traffic to NBC.com were game show Deal or No Deal (which accounted for three of the top 10 searches), daytime soaps Days of Our Lives and Passions, and reality show The Apprentice.

Jay Leno came in at No. 10 and SNL at 19. The Office didn't even break the top 20, coming in as the 24th-most-popular search.

Perhaps, Hitwise suggests, NBC might want to add traffic-driving shows to the YouTube deal. NBC did not return a call for comment, but maybe the network has it just right by promoting the shows that need the online boost.

We suspect that the big draw behind Deal is an online play-and-win component. So maybe the thing to do is to offer online cash incentives for every show. Think of it as reverse pay-per-view.

Reported by P.J. Bednarski, Allison Romano and John Eggerton

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