The chimes are back at NBC. Ben Silverman's fondness for the network's glory days is popping up again as a new “Chime In” campaign that will be tagged to all on-air promotions.
The G-E-C notes that have been a signature of the Peacock network since it was only a radio signal are returning to the broadcast network after years on ice in a GE Profile fridge. It all started with the NBC Entertainment co-chair, whose taste for nostalgia has led to remakes like Knight Rider and American Gladiators, and has been known to bang a set of chimes while on a phone call.
“Ben is a big fan of the chimes,” says Jim Vescera, executive VP of on-air advertising for the NBC Agency. “And that is sort of how this began.”
The campaign to embrace the chimes and the NBC peacock logo began nearly two years ago when the network began ending every promo with the peacock logo as a representation of NBC.com.
In January, the chimes were added to the peacock logo in what Vescera calls a “kiss” to the peacock. Last week, the “Chime In” tagline was added to the mix.
Vescera obviously shares Silverman's enthusiasm. “We've got them. Others wish they had them. And we decided that we had ignored them long enough.”
The new campaign, now running with every promo, will ramp up during NBC's coverage of the summer Beijing Olympics beginning Aug. 8 and hit its crescendo during the fall season, Vescera says.
NBC created its own test promos featuring the chimes.
They included spots featuring three shirtless tailgaters with the network letters painted on their chests singing the notes, three friends honking their respective car horns to create the notes, and a man wearing noise-blocking headphones breaking bottles on concrete to mimic the notes.
In a crowded media landscape, Vescera says networks need clever ways to grow brand awareness.
“We're re-embracing the fun of the past,” he says. “It's a challenging environment. There's a tendency to spend less time on branding and more on promotion. We still want ratings. We still want to win time periods. The trick is finding a blend between what we call topical or episodic promotion and also reinforcing that sense of place, re-embracing the brand.”