Skip to main content

Road Show May Help Viewers Feel Wild About ‘Harry’

When it comes to promoting the new daytime entertainment strip Harry, with Harry Connick Jr., the stars have aligned for NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution and the Fox owned television stations.

After finishing his stint as a judge on Fox’s American Idol, Connick embarked on a 30-city tour to promote his new album, That Would Be Me, ahead of launching Harry on Monday, Sept. 12. Instead of that hectic schedule getting in the way of marketing and producing his new show, it turned into a huge opportunity.

While Connick was on the road, NBCU shot promos in three markets: Austin, Texas; Chicago and Bentonville, Ark.

“It was a great way for us to start the drum roll,” said Betsy Bergman, senior VP, marketing and brand strategy, NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution. “It was a huge opportunity that was unique and we were fortunate to have it. So many times you see launch campaigns that are scripted, and you don’t need to do that with Harry.

“When you launch a new show in syndication, it ultimately comes down to the host. Harry is such an amazing entertainer. I think people know that and we wanted to show it. But for the promo campaign, we also wanted to show how naturally funny he is and how well he connects with people. He’s just unique and genuine,” she continued.

Unveiled at last week’s PromaxBDA Station Summit in Las Vegas, the spots show Connick interacting with lots of people on the street, asking them to watch his new show while offering plenty of hugs and smiles. In one case he tells a young woman, “If you had a new show, I’d watch it.”

“He’s just naturally funny and great with people and we wanted to capture that in the campaign,” said Bergman. “He did some fun man-on-the-street interviews that ended up being promotional gold and we really turned those into the campaign.”

The promos reflect what much of the show will feel like, with Connick interacting with potential viewers both in his studio at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City, and out in the field. During the tour, on which executive producers Justin and Eric Stangel joined Connick, show producers also were able to shoot multiple field segments that will end up on the show.

Those promos will serve as the show’s phase-one awareness campaign, in which stations air spots alerting viewers that Harry is coming five days a week this fall. Bergman and her team created typical 20- and 30-second promos as well as longer one minute-plus pieces that can air on digital platforms. The social platforms for Harry, including YouTube and Facebook, will go live in July, and early fans can find teaser content there.

When the show launches in September, the producers plan to continue producing these longer-form digital pieces to help drive buzz for the show, à la The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon or The Late Late Show With James Corden. NBCU also is producing what Bergman calls a “super tease” the week before the series launch that will include scenes from the actual show, which goes into production at the end of August.

“This is going to be a party show right in the middle of the afternoon,” said Connick during a Wednesday morning Station Summit keynote session moderated by NBC Broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert. “It feels different than anything else in daytime, it feels fresh.” Connick also made time in most markets to meet with station executives, either by attending meet-and-greets at the stations or by inviting them to his shows, or both. He also gave his new show plenty of shout-outs from the stage, getting fans excited for his new series.

While at Station Summit, Connick did the morning keynote with Harbert, taking questions from station marketing executives in the audience, as well as taking time to meet separately with three key station groups that will be airing Harry this fall: Fox, NBC, Media General and Sinclair.

Meanwhile, Harry is getting far bigger primetime promotional opportunities than syndicated strips typically get, with Fox airing an early tease for the show during American Idol’s series finale in May. Promos for Harry also will air across the platforms of NBC during the Summer Olympics in Rio as part of NBCUniversal’s Symphony initiative, reaching many millions of potential viewers.

Now, if only the stars can stay aligned for Harry when it premieres on stations Sept. 12.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.