When Telemundo's "Super Series" El Señor de los Cielos airs Tuesday night at 10, it will be the first original series the network has produced and televised that has lasted three seasons.
And the network has a number of other marketing firsts designed to support the series, which drew 3.2 million viewers to its second season finale last September.
What turned out to be one of the most popular promotions has been a collectible comic book based around season two. But the marketing campaign aimed at drawing in younger viewers has also included an interactive nationwide Cine Transformer Tour, a 15-episode digital special series titled Los Secretos de El Señor de los Cielos, a dedicated Facebook app and a 19-hour surveillance feed tied to the series that will be available on Telemundo.com.
The surveillance feed shows lead character Aurelio Castillas (Rafael Amaya) in prison, just as he was when the series ended last season. Fans will be able to follow his every move on Tuesday from 6 a.m. until the series premiere at 10 p.m. when the storyline will pick up from there.
Just about all the promotional elements are firsts for Telemundo, says Aileen Angulo Merciel, senior VP, marketing and creative. The goal was to target younger viewers and bring them into the fold this season and that was particularly the goal of the comic book.
“Our research shows that there are 7.4 million Hispanics who are comic book readers, and we thought this was a great opportunity to reach out to some of them,” she says. “We wanted to find a different way to connect with a younger audience.”
The comic book idea was more than a hit. The network printed up just 6,000 copies initially to distribute at personal appearances by the series main actors in cities like Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and New York, where they autographed copies for fans.
Merciel says once news of the comics hit social media, the network was deluged with requests for more copies, which it plans to produce. Merciel adds that Telemundo will also publish a second comic based on the first season and after the third season finale a comic recapping that season will also be produced.
The interactive Cine Transformer tour which is titled "El Señor de los Cielos Tercera Temporada: La Experiencia," kicked off the weekend of April 11 and 12 in Los Angeles, continued in Dallas on April 17 and in Houston on April 19, and will also include stops in Chicago on April 23, Miami the week of April 27 and New York on May 3.
The 15-episode digital series recaps the first two seasons and is accessible across Telemundo digital and social platforms including online, mobile and on its novellas app. The network is also airing a second season recap at 9 p.m. Tuesday leading into the start of season three.
El Señor de los Cielos is the story of Aurelio Casillas, a prominent Mexican drug lord during the 1990’s who underwent plastic surgery to hide his identity. The Telemundo Super Series run only between 60 and 80 episodes a season, compared to the traditional novelas that can run almost double that. And many of them are loosely based on reality.
Telemundo Studios produces the series, filming it in Mexico, and it also airs on Mexican television, where it also has a strong following.
Joe Uva, chairman, Hispanic Enterprises and Content at NBC Universal, says Amaya ,who plays Casillas, “has really become an icon among Hispanics in both the U.S. and Mexico.”
Uva says the series started the network’s ratings growth at 10 p.m. when it switched from traditional novelas to the new Super Series format. The series averaged 1.5 million 18-49 viewers in season one and 1.3 million in season two. The series premiered in season one with 2.3 million viewers and its season two premiere drew 2.7 million before concluding with 3.2 million, according to Nielsen data.
It also won an Internatonal Emmy award as Best Non-English Language U.S. Primetime Program in 2014.
Telemundo has been closed mouthed about releasing the names of marketers who’ll be advertising in the season premiere, but one major advertiser will be MillerCoors, clearly aiming at those comic book reading young men.
But Merciel says while the El Señor de los Cielos storyline is more targeted to men, the series is watched by women too. And if you don’t believe women watch broadcast network crime dramas, check out the ratings numbers which show more women than men 18-49 are watching most of them.