Tuesday, May 29

Marketing Jericho: Season Two

As rumors continue to surface (and they are only rumors) that Jericho might score its miraculous second season, the first step for CBS would be to fix the show's marketing message.

If anything kept potential viewers at bay, it was one simple oversight: CBS never redefined the show from how it started to what it became.

Case in point, the original plot line read something like this...

A nuclear mushroom cloud appears on the horizon -- and for the residents of Jericho, a small Kansas town, it could mean they're the only Americans left alive.

I bounced this off a few friends and family members this weekend and none of them were interested. Who wants to see people die of radiation poisoning or be evaporated under the heat of a nuclear blast? We saw enough of that, years ago, with the movie The Day After, they said.

The descriptor is also responsible for most critics rounding up the serial as a "nuclear apocalypse drama," which conjures up those same images of radiation sickness and despair. BUT that's not the show that captured millions of fans despite a midseason break. These fans, the ones responsible for the biggest show cancellation protest in history, saw something else.

Jericho is a story of survival in a small Kansas town that has been mostly cut off from the outside world after a disaster shatters what most of us take for granted in America.

"Wow!" My friends and family, who have never watched the show, said. "Now that is something that sounds worth checking out."

Hmmm ... so a "small town survival drama" beats a "nuclear apocalypse drama." Go figure.

The above description of the show, based loosely on a compilation of fan comments I read over the last few weeks as they campaign to entice new viewers to download the series on iTunes, drives more interest and adds understanding why this fan protest has tipped from viral into the mainstream.

That's right. The Jericho fan movement has officially tipped, after capturing the attention of the The New York Times.

“We are impressed by the creativity of their campaign,” Chris Ender, a CBS spokesman in Los Angeles (which received far fewer nuts than Manhattan), told The New York Times. But so far executives haven’t changed their decision about the show, he said.

(Don't worry Mr. Ender. Jericho fans are lining up a West Coast nut company just so the Los Angeles offices will not feel left out.)

Maybe the executives will change their minds today. Dubbed "Super Nut Tuesday" by fans all over the world, today is the day that NUTSOnline delivers 5 tons of nuts to CBS offices today (the largest gift delivery of nuts in history and only a fraction of the 26,000 pounds purchased for CBS at a single store). At least ten "Jericho Rangers" (a name given to active fans) will be there when the nuts arrive to help unload.

Today is also the day that fan ads break in Variety magazine and The Hollywood Reporter, after the fundraising was so successful that Jericho Lives had to ask fans to STOP sending in donations (at least until the next ad).

These tactics are just the tip of a larger, somewhat makeshift but respectable strategy, which has also resulted in securing more than 90,000 signatures to save the show. For the most complete picture of the mounting news coverage and buzz, drop by Jericho Links.

Or, visit the CBS Jericho message boards where many efforts have unfolded in real time. The boards also include a growing number of actor and producer comments, thanking the fans for their support.

Dollar for dollar ... pound for pound ... the Jericho fans might produce some scrappy marketing material and unsure public relations practices, but the results speak for themselves. They have generated more media coverage, marketing buzz, and interest in the show after a few weeks than CBS did all season. You have to admire that, whether Jericho fans get their wish for a second season or not.



mk on 5/29/07, 10:28 AM said...

Great post! Thanks for your continued interest in the Save "Jericho" fight!

Unknown on 5/29/07, 10:31 AM said...

Loved your insightful post! Thanks for your continued support in the fight for Jericho!

Raven on 5/29/07, 10:37 AM said...

Thank you for your post about our fight to save Jericho!

Sweet Tea on 5/29/07, 10:37 AM said...

Thanks for your brilliant articles. You definitely understand this movement.
Season 2 is all we'll accept.
Nuts to CBS!!

Unknown on 5/29/07, 10:41 AM said...

AWESOME post!! Thank you so much for your support!! WE WANT A SEASON TWO!!!

sheryl_b33 on 5/29/07, 10:48 AM said...

Jericho is a wonderful program that needs time for the story to gradually unfold over a second season. Any attempt by CBS to rush an ending so they can dot the "i" and cross the "t's" is totally unacceptable. We do not want to be pacified...we want to be entertained!!! Jericho nuts to CBS!

Unknown on 5/29/07, 10:51 AM said...

Thanks again Rick, I love reading your blog and I'm sure to come back for more! :)

DJ on 5/29/07, 10:54 AM said...

I couldn't agree more. They have tried everything they can do to kill this show starting with the poor advertising, to the hiatus, to the time slot... Any normal company would be giving bonuses to their executives to have the kind of fan support and reaction that we have, but not CBS.

Sstang1 on 5/29/07, 11:02 AM said...

Awesome article.

You have done us a great service by covering our fight.

You are helping to save Jericho and give us all the second season we want.

Unknown on 5/29/07, 11:26 AM said...

What's funny is that, for me personally, I started watching for the purpose of seeing a nuclear apocalypse drama and stopped watching when that didn't materialize. Could that have possibly resulted in some of the loss of viewership over the hiatus? We'll never know for sure.

Jericho lacked definition from the beginning, yes, but it also lacked creative spark. For better or for worse, this contributed to its struggles in the ratings during that period.

Donna on 5/29/07, 11:31 AM said...

Great post! Thanks for realizing the magnitude of the effort.

Rich on 5/29/07, 12:01 PM said...

Thanks everyone for the comments! They are always appreciated. While I won't write about Jericho every day, you have earned every post.

More importantly, one of my team members wrote and told me that some people are wondering what rumors I'm talking about. First, let me stress, THEY ARE RUMORS.

In practice, I don't write about rumors unless they are relevant to the communication case study and reasonably grounded.

Without being specific, I've received a few e-mails from people who claim to know sources. I don't place much stock in such claims alone so I never wrote about it before.

What I do place stock in is that there seems to be some evidence to lend substance to "rumor" e-mails. The communication has shifted...

1. Reporters are no longer reporting that Jericho fans are delusional or "nut" but may have a chance to save the show.

2. CBS has shifted its message from oh well to disgust to sympathy to being outright impressed with the fan movement.

3. Myself, Find The Boots, and other business-minded bloggers have noted it makes more and more sense to bring the show back from a business standpoint, which negates the business reasons to cancel the show in the first place.
(The New York Times story was in the ... business section, btw).

4. The San Francisco Chronicle says CBS mishandled Jericho. More publications are saving the same.

5. Shows have been brought back after much quieter protests. It would be foolish to think that CBS would drop a show that created the biggest cancellation protest in history.

6. The Jericho story is beginning to outshine any ability to talk about and market their five new shows. In sum, the fans have message dominance.

It is all these reasons (and more), along with the rumor e-mails from fans and press friends, that made me feel confident to mention the rumors and write about what to do IF there was a season two. The "if" is all caps, I might point out again.

You see, such speculation is entirely meaningless if fans become lax in their effort to save the show. It would be a mistake for the fans to give up even an inch until they hear the words direct from CBS.

I'd also likely to briefly point out to Myles that he might be right that some viewers stopped watching when the it became about something other than the end of the world. But that's a personal opinion and to each their own.

Most fans stuck with the show because the creative spark wasn't as thin as Myles might have liked but obviously 8-9 million fans did like (which is about 2-3 million more fans than many shows that will be back next season). So, saying the show lacked a creative spark can be easily argued against. But I'd rather not, because my blog is generally about communication and not product assessment.

cbsplaysdirty on 5/29/07, 12:21 PM said...

You keep posting these and we will keep digging it. Very well written and bang on assessment.

Andi on 5/29/07, 12:36 PM said...

Another great article! I can only hope CBS sees the sound business logic behind bringing Jericho back. They told us it was a business decision when they canceled it; now we've given them a business reason to bring it back.

In fact, I had friends over for Memorial Day, and after I told them about Jericho, they asked where they could watch it online and catch up.

Alexander on 5/29/07, 1:04 PM said...

You are right. We have generated more publicity for the show than CBS managed to do all season. This is a good thing.

But unfortunately fans are too sloppy throughout the season and counts on CBS to do the marketing. I am sure we could have done a lot more when the show actually aired - especially before it returned after the hiatus.

Hopefully we will get a second season and make sure that both the fans and CBS learn from past mistakes.

Thank you for writing about this subject.

Rich on 5/29/07, 5:33 PM said...

Famous Last Words:

Και οι τηλεθεατές του Jericho, σειράς που μέχρι πρόσφατα προβαλλόταν από το αμερικανικό δίκτυο CBS (και νταουνλοουντιαζόταν για όλο τον υπόλοιπο κόσμο), συνεχίζουν να στέλνουνε τόνους “nuts to CBS” ως ένδειξη διαμαρτυρίας για τη διακοπή του. Δε μοιάζουν να αστειεύονται, αφού μέχρι τώρα έχουνε ξοδέψει περισσότερα από $35000 σε “nuts”. — sudo make love blog

Communication tip: you know your message is working when just five words in an entire graph can convey the context.

Food for thought: how long before "nuts" is forever linked to the CBS brand. For some fans, that's already the case ... unless the CBS reverses course.

Mike on 5/29/07, 5:43 PM said...

Rich, your blog provides great inspiration to our campaign. Thanks!

Also, at this point CBS would be foolish not to bring it back for at least 1 full season. Considering the publicity we've all stirred up, they can run season 1 reruns right into season 2. I've had several people who never heard of jericho ask me if I can get them a copy of season 1 because they are curious of all the "hooplah". CBS would be silly to miss out on this massive new potential fanbase.

Unknown on 5/30/07, 10:12 AM said...

Nice Article! Thanks for the info!

EverydayAnomaly on 5/30/07, 11:08 AM said...

Here is a copy of a letter I wrote to several different entities at CBS (this one is to 48 hours, but you get the drift):

Dear 48 Hours,

I wanted to write to you in reference to the way you measure your
viewing population. With the advent of DVR's I don't believe your
station is capable (nor any other of your competitors) of adequately
measuring the number of viewers you have.

I write to CBS, partly, because I believe that it would make a good
investigative story for your show. The other reason is that I think the
backlash of fans concerning the cancellation of Jericho will also
directly attribute to your viewer ship as well. The reason for that
statement is that viewers of Jericho are much more likely to watch 48
Hours than the viewers of the "new" line-up that CBS has
planned for this fall. Let's face it, people that watch a show that is
basically "Survivor Kids" are not going to be pining to watch 48 hours.

I would like to see your metrics regarding DVR viewer ship. I have read
that Nielsen typically looks at those that watch a DVR "event" no later
than 24 hours after the show airs. Most of the people I know and most
of the comments I have read online show that they all watch a taped DVR
"event" typically 36 hours after the show aired, myself included.
Perhaps that is why the backlash seems so great from viewers of Jericho
which was cancelled due to low ratings. Ratings that I do not believe
properly reflect the truth. By the way, I don't watch 48 Hours until 2
to 3 days afterwards, either.

Thank you for your reading,

nh_310 on 5/30/07, 11:10 AM said...

for all those who'll be around today, jeffrey braverman (the man behind the NUTS for JERICHO campaign) will be doing an interactive chat on this site called PalTalk.com. 5 p.m. eastern time. thought i'd repost:


LINK: http://www.paltalk.com/newstalk/jbraverman_episode.shtml



This afternoon at 5 p.m. EST, join host Gary Baumgarten as he welcomes
"NUTS for Jericho" visionary Jeffrey Braverman to his interactive video chat show, NewsTalk, found exclusively on PalTalk.com.

PalTalk is pleased to assist Jericho enthusiasts’ awesome efforts to revive their favorite show. Help maintain the fight by logging onto http://www.paltalk.com/newstalk/jbraverman_episode.shtml TODAY at 5 p.m. EST, and telling friends and family to do the same!

Cam on 5/30/07, 1:16 PM said...

I’m sure by now CBS are wondering whether cancelling Jericho was the smartest thing to do. It may not have had a huge following when the decision was made to axe it but 8 million viewers after an extended hiatus is hardly something you discount out of hand. CBS must also be aware by now that their decision was based on flawed data provided by the Nielsen rating system (being from the UK I have no idea how it works but by all accounts it is an antiquated form of analysing viewer numbers) and that the desirable viewers you wanted were in fact watching by methods other than live TV.

What this cancellation has done is show the true power of today’s communication technology that has allowed tens of thousands of fans to collaborate and organise a protest on-line. These are the very tech savvy people that CBS should be embracing as media moves away from the traditional television set. The campaign to get Jericho a second season has also woken the media and TV critics to the fact that traditional ratings are no longer an acceptable way to judge a program’s success.

At the end of the day CBS made a mistake. It is a mistake that will cost CBS in terms of bad publicity, lost viewers and lost revenue and someone ultimately should carry the responsibility for the decision and suffer the consequences. Yes CBS is in business to make money and hard decisions had to be made but no company can afford to alienate more than 8 million ‘customers’ and expect to survive without repercussions. CBS made a mistake with Jericho and should stand up an admit it. CBS made a mistake with Jericho and should make every effort to turn the situation around to everyone’s advantage and give Jericho a proper chance with a second season. The fans would provide massive support for this and CBS would have an immediate hit on their hands without much effort.

Recently in the UK, the company that sells Mars Bars (one of the top selling chocolate bars) made a mistake by changing some of the ingredients it used. It quickly became evident that their vegetarian ‘customers’ did not agree with the decision and Mars stood up and admitted their mistake. Not only that but a full page apology was made in all the national newspapers by the UK Managing Director. The general reaction to this was one of approval, in that such a big company not only realised their mistake and moved quickly to rectify it but have also now made additional efforts to make their product vegetarian approved.

The above shows that mistakes can be turned around by the Management involved, if they are willing to admit they got it wrong and put the interests of their ‘customers’ first. CBS made a mistake but CBS can also fix it. You know how.

Rich on 5/30/07, 4:33 PM said...

Thank you very much for your comments! They are always welcome here. (BTW, for those that don't know, Gary Baumgarten works for CNN.)

cm et all, right on several points...

Right now, fixing Jericho is super simple. All CBS has to say is:

"The greatest show protest in history deserves the greatest decision reversal in history. We listened! Season Two!"

Seventeen words would do it. Maybe less, but this was only a 3-second solution. They look like heroes, make headlines, enjoy interviews for the next few weeks, pitch their new season, and then make a few million on marketing the DVD this summer.

It's not rocket science. There is nothing to be right about. And that's why I'll have a special post up tomorrow, early (well, early for the West Coast).

Homage on 5/30/07, 6:45 PM said...

I know this isn't the issue, but is there any room in this discussion for acknowledging the simple fact that what CBS did wrong in the first place was to greenlight an underwritten show without any talent to write home about?

I mean, yeah, the nuts are very interesting and all, and so are the packets they're sending everywhere (haw haw, you're welcome), but this just isn't a well-made show. You're right that a logline accurately describing what Jericho depicts is better than a logline for the pre-refined concept; I don't care which hook you use to pull non-viewers in, put them in front of an episode and that interest vanishes.

I don't mean to be flamebaiting here, so maybe I should stop before I start dissing Arrested Development as well or anything. Peace.

Rich on 5/30/07, 7:45 PM said...

Hey homage,

Thank you for your opinion, but our blog is a communication blog; not an entertainment blog that discusses the merits of show. I think that discussion is best served elsewhere.

However, I will say that 8-9 million people might disagree with you. Many more, given your critique on the actors of the show.

So, if you would like the discuss the logic in alienating 8-9 million customers, I might entertain that discussion. Thanks again for dropping by.

xabistuff on 5/31/07, 2:04 PM said...

I wanted to let you know that YouChoose also has an active petition to Save Jericho. We also allow signers to create their own personal page in support of the show. As we are the first social network to combine networking with activism, we would appreciate your support and a change in your link to our petition on YouChoose.

We also offer ‘widget’s for the campaign to promote on your site here: http://www.youchoose.net/views/linkto.php

Rich on 5/31/07, 10:03 PM said...

Thanks X. I'm not sure how many are duplicates from the other petition, but there are an additional 1,500 or so there.

Also, for anyone visiting this one post, I don't write about Jericho everyday, but it's to see our series by clicking the label jericho: Jericho. Ten posts to date, with one planned for Saturday.

Rob on 6/5/07, 4:36 PM said...

My wife and I started watching Jericho from Episode 1. It started out very good but soon turned into a drinking game for us :) We'd yell "drink" everytime there was something inconsistent or just plain stupid in the show.

Then they went on their break and we figured we'd never see our favorite drinking game again. But it came back.

And you know what? We quit drinking! Almost from the first episode back the show's writing was much better, the story was much tighter and we found ourselves watching the show more intently then ever - not looking for holes but actually watching it.

And when I saw the finale I was like "I can't wait for next season!" only to learn shortly after that the show had been cancelled. Talk about a complete let down.

So I hope it does come back because I don't know what they did during the hiatus but it made an incredible difference.

Anonymous said...

i never watched b/c i thought it was either religious-themed (like those left behind books) or historical/sci-fi. now i LOVE it! they should advertise it more like "24."


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