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Stations Show Warner Bros. Their Funny in Ongoing Contest

After attending the local awards at PromaxBDA’s Station Summit in Las Vegas in June 2015, Lisa Gregorian, president and chief marketing officer of Warner Bros. Television Group, was impressed by the level of creative she saw and wanted to give stations the chance to showcase their talent nationally.

“We were seeing the incredible work that was being done by so many stations across the country and saying we should tap into that creative,” Gregorian said. “Many of them know the shows as well as we do; they’ve been with the brands for years.”

At Station Summit 2016, Warner Bros. unveiled the “Show Us Your Funny” contest, which invited stations to submit spots they had produced to promote any of Warner Bros.’ off-net sitcoms, including The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, 2 Broke Girls, Mike and Molly and, starting this year, Mom. (Day-and-date shows such as TMZ and Extra are not included.) Stations whose spots are selected for national distribution receive $5,000, either in cash or in co-op money.

In 2017, Warner Bros. expanded the contest to include print, radio and social campaigns. Winners for those campaigns have the chance to win $2,500 in cash or co-op.

Since Warner Bros. launched the contest, it’s received more than 100 submissions from stations, with several spots going national.

Drumming Up the Perfect Spot

Last year, one of those spots became the year’s most-viewed spot for the syndication version of TV’s top comedy, The Big Bang Theory. The spot, titled “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock,” was originally created by producer Bob Walko to air on Fox-owned MyNet affiliate WRBW Orlando.

The spot centers on a quick sequence in which Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and Raj Koothrapalli (Kunal Nayyar) are playing the Big Bang gang’s version of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” — in this case, adding lizard and Cooper’s favorite Star Trek character, Spock, to the rotation.

The clips-based spot has a rhythmic feel to it that grabbed the attention of Walko, producer for Fox-owned WOFL/WRBW/WOGX Orlando, who also happens to be a drummer.

“Being a musician, he wanted to try to put that to music. The bass track is a percussion track that he chose. It was all right in his wheelhouse,” Chris Friedrichs, vice president of creative services at the Orlando station group, said.

Friedrichs thought it might rate well. “I told Bob, ‘Let’s enter it and see. All they can do is say no or not pick us,’ ” he said. “We were very excited and honored that WB chose our spot to go national.”

The promo was so popular with stations across the country that it ended up tracking as the syndicated show’s No. 1 image spot for the year, accounting for about 10% of all promos for the show, according to Nielsen Keeping Trac. That’s triple the viewership of the next highest spot for Big Bang, scoring nearly 60 million impressions among adults 25-54.

WRBW applied its $5,000 prize to an existing outdoor advertising campaign, adding four LED billboards in the Orlando designated market area during the 2017 May sweeps period. While it’s difficult to connect the dots between promotion and ratings, numbers for The Big Bang Theory on the station improved by 0.2% during the period, said Friedrichs.

But WRBW’s spot wasn’t the only one to make a national impression. Other winners so far include CBS’s KBCW San Francisco, KTXA Dallas and WKBD Detroit; Fox’s KTBC Austin, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s WNYO Buffalo; Tribune Media’s KTLA Los Angeles; and Weigel Broadcasting’s WCWW South Bend, Ind.

WKBD Detroit’s spot, titled “Howard’s Mother” and made in the style of a movie trailer, went on to spark a themed week of Big Bang episodes that featured Howard’s mother ahead of Mother’s Day.

The most recent winner was KTLA Los Angeles, with a campaign called “Is It Wrong?” It’s designed to feel like a game show and draws from many horrifying but hilarious moments from Two and a Half Men, such as Charlie (Charlie Sheen) walking through a glass door and cutting himself to ribbons, Jake (Angus T. Jones) inviting housecleaner Berta (Conchata Ferrell) to see his armpit hair and, of course, farting.

And KTXA Dallas submitted a campaign promoting both 2 Broke Girls and Mike and Molly as those two shows took on NBC’s coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics. The spots feature other “sports” in which their characters are competing. “Creativity comes from everywhere and everyone,” Gregorian said. “It’s not just here in Los Angeles.”

Paige Albiniak
Paige Albiniak

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.