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Studios Unveil Marketing Strategies at Station Summit

Studios and syndicators came to PromaxBDA Station Summit in Las Vegas June 19-23 to reveal their marketing plans for upcoming shows to their TV station clients.

This fall, there are more shows launching than were expected back in January, when syndicators gathered at NATPE Miami Market & Conference. Back then, Twentieth’s Page Six TV was the only new show headed for national syndication, with a few more on offer. At Station Summit, several studios showcased their coming wares to station marketing executives.

Twentieth and EndemolShine North America, its producing partner, were on hand to discuss some elaborate marketing plans, which started early last month.

Page Six TV was joined by two new off-net offerings — Warner Bros.’ Mom and Sony Pictures Television’s The Gold-bergs, both of which are coming to TV stations this fall. NBCUniversal talked about what it’s doing to launch the new iteration of Steve Harvey’s talk show. And Entertainment Studios was on hand for the first time, meeting with stations about its new comedy game show, Funny You Should Ask.

Debmar-Mercury and FremantleMedia North America are getting ready to launch the Judge Judy Sheindlin-created game show, iWitness, as a six-week test starting July 10. And CBS Television Distribution, after hosting a morning keynote featuring Dr. Phil Mc-Graw, talked to stations about its new show, Daily Mail TV, which is coming from McGraw, his son Jay and Daily Mail publisher Martin Clarke, and will be executive produced by Carla Pennington from New York City.

Mom, the fourth sitcom coming to syndication from creator Chuck Lorre, premieres Sept. 18 on Tribune-owned (soon to be Sinclair-owned) stations in top markets, as well as across the country. To promote the show, Warner Bros. has planned an elaborate campaign, supported by research.

‘Mom,’ ‘Men’ Are a Winning Match

One of Warner Bros.’ key findings is that when Mom airs on a CBS owned or affiliated station that also airs Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men (also from Lorre) in syndication, 75% of the audience sticks around to watch both shows, said Liz Huszarik, executive vice president, Warner Bros. media research and insights. As of now, 92 stations have licensed both shows, and Warner Bros. is encouraging those stations to pair the two shows in access or late-fringe time periods to aim for greater viewership for both.

To incentivize stations to schedule the two shows together, Warner Bros. is offering to match their off-air advertising efforts three for one at launch and again during the November sweeps.

So, if a local station buys off-air time on a local cable operator, for example, Warner Bros. will triple that buy.

The studio also created a takeoff of Two and a Half Men’s well-known opening titles, in which Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones sing “men, men, men, men …” In the new spot, Mom’s Anna Faris and Allison Janney take over the Sheen and Cryer roles, while Cryer appears in the middle, all singing “mom, mom, mom, mom …”

“These shows have similar signature styles and comedic sensibilities. Back-to-back, these two shows are guaranteed to build your audience,” said Lisa Gregorian, president and chief marketing officer, Warner Bros. Television Group, during the presentation to stations at Station Summit.

Warner Bros. also is creating customizable promos featuring local stations’ call letters and show time periods, with both appearing as part of a tattoo on Christy’s (Faris) arm. The company is offering other customizable print ads that can run in stations’ partner newspapers and include the local paper’s name in the art.

Finally, Warner Bros. is extending last year’s $1 million “Show Us Your Funny” initiative, which encourages stations to submit their locally created promos to be considered for national use. This year, stations can go beyond just TV and enter promos for radio, outdoor and print ads and social-media content for the chance to win $5,000 for on-air spots and $1,000 for all other spots.

“There is amazingly creative work being done by our local station partners,” Gregorian said. “By having access to these produced spots, we can keep our stations across the country stocked with a fresh library of creative content.”

In the program’s first year, started in 2016, KTLA Los Angeles, WBCW San Francisco and WRBW Orlando and many other stations all submitted promos that went national.


Also launching this fall is The Goldbergs, distributed by Sony Pictures Television. The Goldbergs is headed into its fifth season on ABC, but SPT has been planning for its syndicated run since the show was picked up for a second season, said Sheraton Kalouria, SPT’s president and chief marketing officer. The show already is renewed for two more seasons, including the upcoming one.

Great Escapist Fare

At Station Summit, SPT had fun with attendees, setting up an “escape room” in the foyer by the Mirage Events Center. The escape room was set up like the Goldbergs’ living room, and once inside, teams of three or four players had to first figure out what challenge they were trying to solve and then work their way through the clues in less than 10 minutes to successfully escape.

The studio plans to partner with stations this summer and fall to bring the escape room activation to their markets, said Kalouria.

SPT also set up its presentation room at Station Summit like a high-school classroom from the eighties, complete with chairs with built-in desks, transparency projector and old-school TVs.

The campaign for The Goldbergs is simple, said Kalouria: focus on the ’80s, the funny and the family.

“The show is heartwarming and funny. We wanted to embrace that and not run away from it,” he said.

SPT also did a customizable promo for stations that was written by show creator Adam Goldberg himself, and concludes with a show-oriented rap by Big Tasty, the alter ego of Barry Goldberg (Troy Gentile).

Finally, SPT is working on a local activation in the show’s home city of Philadelphia, with Goldberg possibly receiving a key to the city and him or a cast member throwing out the first pitch at a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game.

‘Steve’ on the Move

NBCUniversal this fall is relaunching Steve Harvey’s talk show with a campaign emphasizing the show’s new celebrity focus and move to Los Angeles. The new show, simply named Steve, is being executive produced by Shane Farley and will be shot on the Universal lot.

“Our strategy for the relaunch was capitalizing on Steve’s comedy and highlighting the fact that the show’s moving to Hollywood. It’s the same Steve you know and love with a new emphasis in terms of the show’s content,” said Betsy Bergman, senior VP of marketing and brand strategy, NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution.

So far, the campaign includes two tease spots and two spots that are the “mother ship of the campaign,” said Bergman. The spots are written and produced by Stun Creative, which PromaxBDA named North America agency of the year at its conference earlier in June.

“We’re very much treating it — in terms of asset delivery and support — like the launch of a brand-new show,” she said.

Entertainment Studios met with stations in an official capacity for the first time this year to talk about its new comedy-game hybrid, Funny You Should Ask, hosted by Jon Kelley. Funny You Should Ask, premiering Sept. 11, will feature a rotating panel of comedians, including Howie Mandel, Anthony Anderson, Tom Arnold, Louie Anderson, Sheryl Underwood, Cedric the Entertainer, Jon Lovitz, Sherri Shepherd and more.

Finally, Sheindlin herself is appearing in and providing voiceover in promos for iWitness, airing this summer on select Fox-owned stations, including WNYW New York and WTTG Washington, D.C. While Sheindlin won’t be the star of the promos or appear in the show, she’s offering an assist to get the show off the ground and hopefully into national syndication next year. Los Angeles-based creative agency Lussier helped Debmar-Mercury and FremantleMedia with the campaign.

“We’re just making the connection that it does come from her and she came up with the concept based on looking at cases and evidence,” said Adam Lewis, VP of marketing for Debmar-Mercury.

The show is hosted by John Henson of Wipeout and Talk Soup, and features contestants looking at various videos and then being tested on their immediate recall.

Also launching this fall are Tegna’s Daily Blast Live on 36 Tegna-owned stations and Scripps’ new lifestyle talk show starring Ben Aaron and Kellie Pickler on 20 Scripps-owned stations. Both shows will air next season on group-owned stations only, with hopes of expanding to more stations later.

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.