Fox will unveil the first 45-second trailer for midseason rookie The Sarah Connor Chronicles during game three of the World Series as the network ramps up a massive promotional push for its top freshman hopeful this year.
“This is the biggest campaign for a new midseason show in years,” Fox executive vice president of marketing and communications Joe Earley said. “And I can’t remember when we’ve started a campaign so early.”
Fox is backing the Jan. 14 premiere with a giant push after making the decision to hold it until midseason. But for Fox, a midseason debut isn’t the back-burner it is at other networks.
Fox basically starts its season in January every year when American Idol returns with its promotional power. Additionally, the network can heavily push the new show to a compatible sports-fan audience before and after its debut with high-profile events, including the Super Bowl, the World Series and college football’s Bowl Championship Series.
The trailer, which will airs Saturday, Oct. 27, will kick into high gear a campaign that very quietly began back in September.
A first phase of on-air teases launched Sept. 17 with a series of graphics popping up on the lower third of the screen during shows. The image was just two red dots that would disappear after only four seconds.
The dots were actually superimposed over a show as it aired, so network executives had to find a time in each show when there was a dark backdrop at the bottom of the screen during a noncrucial time in the show’s story arc.
The network gave no other information to viewers, such as the fact that the dots were supposed to be eyes of the Terminator robots from the show. According to Earley, some viewers wondered if it was some kind of new anti-piracy technique.
A second phase rolled out two weeks later with an image more recognizable as a Terminator’s face.
A third phase of on-air promos will now include the premiere date or the show’s URL, and will also incorporate full-screen graphics.
A final phase next month will add full tune-in information.
While the campaign will include a major off-network spend, Fox is also paying close attention to the online world, which can virally boost a science-fiction show, a la Lost or Heroes.
With that in mind, Fox had show creator Josh Friedman leak the show’s premiere date to the online world the day before the network made it public.
“We are making sure from the outset that we have that relationship going,” Earley said.
A promotional push will be needed, as the network will ask the show to lead off Monday at 8 p.m., where it will be followed by 24.
While conventional wisdom says networks use an established show to launch a rookie behind it, Fox doesn’t want to mess with the time slot for its successful serialized drama, nor would it want to put The Sarah Connor Chronicles up against Heroes and make TiVo-less science-fiction fans choose.