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NBCU Campaigns for 'Steve Harvey'

If NBCUniversal's strategy works, its new daytime talk show, Steve Harvey, will benefit big-time from a well-planned summer of promotion.

The company already has started to market the show on TV station affiliates across the country and online, with a series of spots designed to reintroduce Harvey to daytime audiences, who may know him as a comedian but not as a host of a daytime talk show.

“We wanted people to know that he’s more than funny, and we wanted to tell people that earlier in the process,” says Donna Mills, senior vice president, marketing, communications and af! liate relations for NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution. “We wanted to make sure that people knew he has all of these other great qualities and that’s why he should be in daytime.”

The spots are quick looks at Harvey, who’s been married, divorced and married again; is the father of seven children in a blended family; and has even risen from homelessness and other difficult circumstances. Today, he also hosts another syndicated TV show, Debmar- Mercury’s Family Feud, as well as a nationally syndicated radio show. Harvey also wrote a New York Times best-selling book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, which was recently turned into a hit movie. Its production company, Screen Gems, just forged the deal to make a sequel. Plus, the sitcom The Steve Harvey Show aired on The WB from 1996-2002.

All of that experience makes Harvey uniquely qualified to host a daytime talker: “That’s why I’m coming to daytime,” Harvey tells viewers in the spots. “You and I will get through this together.”

“He’s not scripted,” says Mills. “He’s an authentic human being and a genuine guy with a heart who really sees the good in people and can deliver tough news in a funny way.”

When Steve Harvey, which will be produced by Endemol USA, launches Sept. 4, the host will engage with real people to talk about real issues—relationships, marriage, divorce, child-raising and so forth.

“We’re trying to make a show that’s insightfully funny,” says Alex Duda, who is executive producing the show from NBC’s recently revamped studios at WMAQ Chicago. “Steve is not an expert like Dr. Phil or Dr. Drew or Dr. Oz. He’s an authority because he doles out common-sense advice to real people. He can be your dad, best friend, brother. He can wear a lot of hats with the viewer.”

After a few weeks of getting the word out, NBCU’s promotions team will dig a little deeper, with a series of promos set to launch this week (July 9). One spot spoofs a political campaign ad, with a tagline of “I am Steve Harvey and I approved this message.”

The Olympics, which start on NBC on July 27, also will provide a huge promotional opportunity for NBCU and the team has designed spots to air during the Games. The team also has designed spots just for stations that will run both Steve Harvey and Family Feud, or both Steve Harvey and Warner Bros.’ Ellen Degeneres, which, like Steve Harvey, will air on the NBC owned stations.

“Steve has been on Ellen’s show several times,” says Mills. “They have a very natural chemistry that was fun to watch.”

While all of this is going on, NBCU’s digital team is working to get the word out on social media, especially Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Harvey already is very prolific across social media platforms, with 1.5 million subscribers on Facebook and more than 700,000 followers on Twitter, making NBCU’s job that much easier.

“With this show and especially this host, we want to use social media even more than we have in the past,” says David McMahon, vice president, digital strategy for NBCU Domestic Television Distribution. “Previously, we’ve held out on the social media to drive people to the Website. With Steve, it just makes sense to give people what they want wherever they are.”

Once the show is up and running, social media will remain a big part of the program. “Facebook and Twitter are going to be a huge piece of finding guests,” McMahon adds. “We are already posting all the time, looking for people to tell us their stories. People are incredibly open and willing to share their stories, especially in a community like the one Steve’s already built. Steve’s team built all of his social media from scratch and they really get it. We’ve never had this strong of a digital component in place right from the start.”

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