Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution is launching three new off-net
sitcoms into syndication on Monday, Sept. 13: The New Adventures of Old
Christine, Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
The challenge for any TV marketer tasked with promoting off-net fare is to
make something old seem new again. Many TV viewers know that off-net shows
exist, but their familiarity with these shows may end there. Warner Bros.'
marketing efforts are three-fold: first, tease potential viewers about the
shows' content. Next, go deeper so that viewers are familiar with the shows'
storylines. As the premiere date gets closer, get more specific with promos,
including day-and-date tune-in information. And get those promos on all
possible platforms, whether that's TV, on Facebook, on Twitter, or at the local mall.
"We're doing a four-month campaign with multiple phases to engage
viewers on several touch points and many platforms," says Susan Kantor,
WBDTD's executive vice president of marketing. "We always do market
research before we go into our consumer campaign so we know what will resonate
with viewers. That helps us understand how to differentiate each show."
Old Christine, which aired on CBS for five seasons and was just
cancelled in May, is perhaps the broadest of the three shows and it also has
the advantage of clearly appealing to women. Old Christine stars Julia
Louis-Dreyfus as a single mom who constantly has to deal with her ex-husband
and his new wife, also named Christine, as she tries to live her own life, run
her business and date.
To inform viewers that Christine is coming to their market five
days a week, the studio shot spots with Louis-Dreyfus in which she would see
her therapist, for example, and in the end say, "put me down for five days
WBDTD also shot customizable promos with Louis-Dreyfus that allowed stations
to insert their call letters or channel throughout. "Stations always want
customized station IDs and we try to accommodate all of those asks," says
Off-air, WBDTD is teaming with 250 nail salons across the country to offer
free manicures and special Old Christine promotions. Viewers also will
see promotions of Old Christine show up on the Val-Pak coupons that
they receive in the mail.
Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage each require a
different sort of promotion. Both shows will air in late-fringe and late-night
and are a bit edgier, coming off of HBO. They also have been known to appeal to
men, so it's Warner Bros.' job to explain to women why they should watch too.
In Curb Your Enthusiasm, former Seinfeld executive
producer plays a version of himself in this sitcom stocked full of David's
Hollywood friends. Although David's comedy has made the show a success for HBO, it can be an acquired taste.
"Larry David is actually relatable to both men and women," says
Kantor. "He's very funny in that he says what you are thinking. People
also really enjoy seeing Larry interacting with real people. We realized that
sometimes Larry's perspective on life can be a little off-putting, so we wanted
to make sure we addressed that. Our tag line for that show is ˜so wrong
yet so funny,' which forgives the viewers for finding Larry's crazy behavior
As for Entourage, a show about a rising Hollywood star and his
friends, Warner Bros. is focusing on the fact that women enjoy the guys'
friendships and the way they banter back and forth with each other more than
they enjoy the their Hollywood lifestyle or the show's celebrity in-jokes.
"We concentrated on it being an ensemble buddy comedy," says Kantor.
"Our tagline for that one is 'Entourage: everybody needs one."
Warner Bros.' also designed spots to promote Curb and Entourage
together since the two shows run back-to-back in more than 75% of markets.
"We came up with two campaigns," says Kantor. "'Hot and
Bothered' when Entourage runs before Curb, and 'The Bald and
The Beautiful' when the shows run in reverse. Part of our marketing
strategy was to maximize our dollars and do a lot of marketing that combines
the two shows."
The studio also created one-to-three minute interstitials for each show that
stations can insert when they have space to fill at the end of a sports event,
for example and that "really tell the story of these shows," says
Besides all of the on-air promos, Warner Bros. is focusing on driving
tune-in to the shows and in promoting the shows on the ground in major markets.
In Los Angeles, Warner Bros. has placed branded food trucks all over town,
where people can get Entourage-themed meals at food carts wrapped in Entourage
branding. (Drama-dy Mumbai Butter Chicken, anyone? How about a Veg-E Salad?)
In markets across the country, red carpets and photographers will spring up
at local malls and other high traffic areas, taking people's pictures and
promoting the show. Warner Bros. also is running sweepstakes for each of the
three shows and promoting them via local radio deejays.
"Off-air events help us extend our reach and our frequency," says
Kantor. "It's all about viewer engagement and getting people involved in
the shows wherever they are, whether that's at the mall or online."