Twentieth Hits Afterburners for Bernie Mac

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Twentieth Television is backing the Sept. 12 off-net syndication debut of Fox comedy The Bernie Mac Show with a major back-to-school-themed push featuring an on-air and online sweepstakes, a radio promotion and a guerrilla campaign.

“We are selling this as a traditional family sitcom and that’s why we are using the whole back-to-school idea,” says Twentieth Television senior VP, marketing and creative, Susan Kantor.

The on-air sweepstakes is a “watch and win” sponsored by Hewlett Packard (HP). In-program promos will drive viewers online to a quiz, where they can win a grand prize package of HP computers and accessories.   Secondary prizes are Bernie Mac backpacks loaded with PDAs and show merchandise.  

The radio campaign, sponsored by Apple, will target the adult 18-49 demo and will run in the Top 20 markets for two weeks this month.  Local DJs will give away Apple Photo iPods and a chance to enter the HP contest.

Participating radio and TV stations will also promote the sweepstakes online, pushing the tagline “School’s Back and So Is Bernie Mac!” via their home pages.

Twentieth planned to kick off the push over Labor Day weekend with aerial banners and street teams at beaches in New York and Los Angeles. 

Street teams were to hand out nearly 13,000 Bernie Mac beach balls and 30,000 post-cards to promote tune-in and also give people a chance to win a Florida vacation.

Twentieth estimates the on-air, radio and Internet component has a value of $7 million to $8 million and will garner more than 60 million impressions.  Additionally, the company hoped the aerial and ground outreach at the beaches would generate another 21 million impressions over the holiday weekend.

Twentieth is also debuting first-run weekday court show Judge Alex on Sept. 12, as well as the off-net debut of Fox drama 24, which will air on weekends beginning Oct. 2.