As Fall Nears, Syndies Ready Promo Pitches

Syndicators are busy preparing promotion campaigns for five new talk shows as well as introducing promos with new takes on returning programs in on-air and multiplatform pushes to make their talent stand out in the markets.

This fall’s daytime lineup will be as competitive as any in recent memory, prompting syndicators to redouble their efforts to promote returning talk shows and aggressively launch five new daytime talkers this fall with multifaceted, multiplatform campaigns that are kicking off now and will expand and evolve into the fall.

One of those established shows is Warner Bros.’ Ellen, which is going into its 10th season. Next week, Ellen stations will begin airing a four-pronged campaign that for the first time will include host Ellen DeGeneres’ rarely seen serious side.

That campaign is called “Ellen in Her Own Words,” with DeGeneres sitting on her stage, lights dimmed, speaking in a soft tone about the show.

“The legacy of Ellen is about fun and laughs,” says Blake Bryant, SVP of marketing at Telepictures Productions. He spoke yesterday at the PromaxBDA Station Summit in Las Vegas. “We want to show another side of Ellen that her audience knows.”

In recent years, Ellen has evolved from a funny talk show into a funny talk show with heart. DeGeneres often gives people in need prizes like money to pay bills.

“In a lot of markets, Ellen is the stations’ news lead-in,” says Susan Kantor, EVP of marketing at Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. “This is really compatible with news.”


The second prong has celebrities like Jennifer Aniston talking about DeGeneres and, in Aniston’s case, getting her hair and makeup messed up in the process. The third prong is sponsorable vignettes with funny clips from past episodes. The fourth is related to NBC’s upcoming Summer Olympics.

CBS Television Distribution has created a fun, upbeat series of more than a dozen spots for its upcoming Jeff Probst show, which center on the familiar nametag greeting, “Hello I’m…”

The spots, which stations began airing about a month ago, are meant to introduce Jeff Probst to viewers who don’t know him or who know him only as the host of CBS’s reality show Survivor.

“With this introduction campaign, you learn about Jeff, what he’ll do as a host and some of the subjects he’ll talk about on his show,” says Michael Mischler, EVP of marketing at CBS Television Distribution.

The campaign shows a big “Hello I’m…” label with Jeff superimposed on it. He talks about his personality, his interests and his life — like being a dad, growing up in Kansas and being inquisitive.

The campaign, like virtually all of the syndicators’ marketing efforts, is a multimedia campaign with a significant focus on social media.

“Now, he has a website for his show, he has a Facebook page and he’s been tweeting,” says Mischler.

The show is also incorporating the Twitter-type social media site Tout, where Probst posts 15-second promotional videos.

Meantime, CBS has long-running shows it’s promoting, including the No. 1-ranked talk show Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray and top-rated court show Judge Judy.

“What we do is strategically look at these market-by-market because in syndication you survive market by market,” Mischler says. “If there’s a market where we need to shore up the show, we go in and target a campaign against whatever competitors we have in that market.”

NBC Universal Domestic Television is launching two new daytime talk shows, Steve Harvey, which is debuting in large markets on NBC Owned Television Stations, and Trisha featuring Maury guest host Trisha Goddard.

NBC’s strategy to promote Steve Harvey is to play up his popularity as a standup comedian, radio show host and TV host with a multi-phased campaign that recently kicked off.

“Our marketing is educating viewers about who he is,” says Donna Mills, SVP of marketing, communications and affiliate relations at NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution. “One [promo] is called Mind Reader, where he is talking to viewers about why he can bring something new to daytime.”

Later phases include Harvey “taking on” hot topics, essentially with Harvey putting a funny spin on topics like ending a relationship with a text message.

Steve promotions will also include a joint venture with Warner Bros. where Steve Harvey and Ellen are promoted together. Steve will lead into Ellen in several markets.

“They’re really fun spots,” says Mills. “He’s also the Family Feud host, so we have a Family Feud-themed spot, but the station doesn’t have to air Feud to run that spot.”

NBC’s marketing strategy for Trisha is to play off the show’s association with Maury, Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos. All four shows tape in the same Connecticut studio.

“We’re lucky because she has been on Maury, so we have clip-based spots,” says Mills. “One of the spots has Trisha and Maury together and another spot has Trisha, Maury, Jerry and Steve, with her being a woman in a man’s world.”

Twentieth Television also has two new shows it’s promoting: Ricki with Ricki Lake and Dish Nation, where radio DJs from five markets — including Dallas, New York, Detroit and Atlanta — joke on the air about entertainment news.

Last June, Twentieth kicked off a social media campaign for Ricki that has evolved into having online pitch meetings where people suggest topics for episodes. The show’s social strategy is to have fans get the word out about the show to their online friends, promoting it on a grassroots level to millions of TV viewers.

“We’re engaging people in meaningful ways on all the platforms,” says Stephen Brown, SVP of programming at Twentieth. “It’s like getting your army in place ahead of time. If you wait until after the show launches, you’re behind the eight ball.”

The show’s social strategy includes the Twentieth team becoming online friends with Ricki Lake fans.

“Ricki engages with people on a personal level,” says Brown. “If people can’t reach Ricki, they can reach us. Around us, we have the Founding Members — 30  very strong influencers — and we have Super Friends around them.”

The socializing takes place offline, too. So far, about two dozen Friends of Ricki groups meet in person once or twice a month.

Local TV stations have been playing a teaser promo for Ricki since May. More spots will begin airing in July.

Dish Nation, which had a test run on Fox stations last summer, is getting a promotional boost from its DJs talking about the show on their radio programs.

“We’ll have 17 different talent, so between the morning shows they have and their social media accounts, we’re already reaching millions and millions of people,” says Brown. “You’ll see that building in July and August.”

TV station promotional spots for Dish Nation will focus on its humor while showing its format — jumping from one radio show to another.

“It’s entertainment news but you’re going to laugh,” says Brown. “Those promo spots will go out right after the Fourth of July.”

Sony Pictures Television also has an established hit in Dr. Oz, which is going into its fourth season. Sony’s dozen or so promotional spots are playing up Oz’s niche in daytime, being a practicing doctor.

“We concluded that the best way to set ourselves apart from other shows is to play our game,” says Sheraton Kalouria, chief marketing officer at Sony Pictures Television. “What we have done on air with our partners at Harpo, which we unveiled [yesterday], is a campaign called ‘One Show (Can Save Your Life).’

“The promise of our fall campaign is that one show, Dr. Oz, can change your life. We offer proof, like the millions of pounds that viewers have lost, the number of people who have addressed their diabetes or improved their sex lives.”

Sony is also lining up recurring TV appearances for Dr. Oz, including monthly appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America. And he will be featured on the ABC primetime show NY Med, which premieres next month.

Sony is rolling out this season’s only new off-network sitcom, Rules of Engagement. The sitcom starts its seventh season on CBS next season. Sony’s promotional strategy is to provide stations with customizable spots that let them pair up Rules with a comedy that’s already on the air.

“We’re giving stations 30-second spots, where there is a Rules cell, 10 seconds for the other comedy and then a tag with the local time,” Kalouria says.

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