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In Vegas, Boiling Shows Down to the Core

Syndicators offered up their best promos for station marketers at last week’s PromaxBDA Station Summit in Las Vegas. Only a handful of new shows are launching this fall. In first run, those are Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game, starring Craig Ferguson; Warner Bros.’ The Real; NBCUniversal’s Meredith Vieira; and CBS Television Distribution’s Hot Bench. The new off-net sitcoms are Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly, Debmar- Mercury’s Anger Management and Twentieth’s Raising Hope.

Most of the syndicators’ promotional strategies are about boiling down the shows to their core concept and then selling that message. Celebrity Name Game’s promos showed viewers how fast and funny Ferguson is on his feet, while NBCU is focusing on Vieira’s authenticity and relatability. And as the name suggests, The Real is all about getting real with a group of chatty girlfriends.

Even though promoting off-net sitcoms always involves splicing together the show’s cleverest clips into a campaign, Warner Bros. has done a particularly effective job with Mike & Molly, showcasing the comedy of its star, Melissa McCarthy.

“At its core, every successful sitcom is about family,” said Susan Kantor, Warner Bros. executive VP of marketing. “Mike & Molly is a combination of both: each episode explores a relatable set of issues around relationships—romance, in-laws and bromance—all within a hilarious, fast-paced half-hour.”

Debmar-Mercury partnered with agency Lussier to create the campaign for Celebrity Name Game. The show’s set won’t be ready until July, so Lussier took Ferguson around town to chat with people.

That plan worked so well that instead of using that footage for promos, Debmar-Mercury and producer FremantleMedia will bake those man-on-the-street moments into the show. Lussier then created promos out of Ferguson humorously answering questions such as, “What do you think about game shows?” and “Why do you want to host a game show?” Lussier also shot Ferguson in his still-empty studio, and will use that footage to tease viewers that the show is coming. Ferguson was on hand at last week’s Station Summit to meet with station marketing execs.

Likewise, Warner Bros. brought the cast of The Real to Las Vegas to do a mini-show for marketers. “We did enough research and testing with this show to not be irresponsible, and now we just put them on stage, start the cameras and say, ‘Let’s just make it fun,’” said The Real executive producer Sallyann Salsano, who served as EP on MTV’s Jersey Shore and is currently producing CMT’s Party Down South.

While other syndicators didn’t necessarily have new shows to discuss, studios such as Twentieth were on hand to update stations on their current product. In Twentieth’s case, that includes Modern Family, Family Guy and How I Met Your Mother, while Sony Pictures Television sent cookies and door hangers to attendees’ rooms to promote its longrunning Seinfeld.

Twentieth treated attendees to a “popup exhibit,” featuring props and costumes from the syndicator’s portfolio of off-net programs, as well as the studio’s feature films. Among those were Sue Sylvester’s track suit from Glee, wigs and prosthetics from Planet of the Apes, and items from Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother and Raising Hope.