Poorly conceived network promotions for successful TV shows

With all the hype and ambitious verbiage associated with turkey shows that get pulled after a few episodes, surely before a season has completed, long before any kind of following could be established, let’s flip the deck and come up with some lame and insipid promotions that might have been used for shows that went on to be multi-season successes.

How would you promote these shows, and others of your choosing, so as to draw the minimum number of new viewers for the pilot and first few episodes:

The Sopranos
Star Trek
60 Minutes
The Tonight Show
South Park
The Simpsons

I’d promote MAS*H to make it look like they were laughing at injured and dying soldiers and making war out to be fun. That’d keep viewers away in droves and crank up the ‘haven’t seen it but I’m offended’ complaints. Of course, that may backfire if people check in to see if it’s true.

As with any program, you could “promote” it through lack of anything positive in the advertising campaign and through showing only the most boring of show clips so as to make it appear utterly unexciting.

You could have Alan Alda look rather creepily at you, pat the bed he’s standing next to, and say, “I’ll put you down for an appointment.”

Wait - that’s what they actually did.

For its time, I think an ad campaign which concentrated on shots of Uhura and Sulu, with Spock featured to a lesser degree, would do the trick.

Oh, and any shot of Kirk would have to be from the salt vampire scene where he’s screaming.

I have to confess to joining The Sopranos in the second season, after the word-of-mouth had persuaded me to give it a whirl, but I can imagine some ineffective promotions could have focussed on Livia and Junior talking about Italian recipes and reminiscing about Italy as told to them by their parents.

AJ and some of his elementary school playmates could have been using the favorite toy of the day and acting excited about some other lame TV shows they liked.

No Tony. No Carmela. No Chris. No Paulie. Maybe some Silvio with the E Street do-rag doing some Al Pacino impressions.

You could focus ST:TNG promos on Wesley Crusher and shots of the enemy captain screaming followed by Troi’s usual “I sense hostility” crap.


Oh wait. you ment the series not the movies. Nevermind.

Cheers premiered at 77th out 77 prime-time shows and spent pretty much all of its first season in last place, so all you’d have to do is find the original promos for the show to have your answer.

When NBC picked up Taxi from ABC, it promoted the show with the phrase “Same time, new network.” Last year, NBC promoted Jay Leno’s entry in prime time with “Different time, same network.” Both shows ended up canceled, so the “same/new” idea seems effective in killing shows.

Come to think of it, a general guideline for killing a show appears to be “promote it like NBC would.”

60 Minutes - Make Andy Rooney the linchpin of your campaign.

60 Minutes

Just show that stopwatch for the entire commercial.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson – Have Tommy Newsome and Doc chat about some of the band’s charts they’ll be playing during commercials. Make sure the sound on the promo is distorted and set too low.

Best way to kill animated shows for adults like South Park and Simpsons would be to make it look like they were aimed at little kids. Especially the SImpsons, since the “cartoons are for kids” idea was pretty entrenched before they aired.

The Rockford Files - Show Jim running.

Quantum Leap - Show Sam running.

A better one for TNG would be to have Troi’s “Do you remember what I taught you, Imzadi? Can you still sense my thoughts?” speech over this still image.