Friday, May 25

Placing Ads: Jericho Command

Forbes recently ran a pick-up story that called it what we called it days ago: the largest viewer protest in television history. With well over 1,000 registered members at Jericho Rally Point, more than 80,000 petition signatures, and about 19,000 pounds of nuts shipped to CBS by NutsOnline alone, it is quickly becoming the largest social media protest in history.

On Tuesday, the increasingly structured Jericho fanbase is poised to move their message into the mainstream whether news outlets pick up their story or not. They are running a full-page ad in Variety magazine. The advertisement, one of several the fanbase will buy, will drive visitors to Bring Jericho Back, a Web site that includes links to relevant sites and contact numbers at CBS.

The ad, which includes story clips from The Los Angeles Times and, will be accompanied by a banner on the Variety Web site. But the fans won't stop there. They are already raising money to purchase another ad in The Hollywood Reporter and shopping bigger publications.

Such ads will no doubt rally even more to their cause, helping it reach the tipping point when a movement becomes mainstream. Rumblings across the Internet hint that may happen soon for Jericho. Message board comments on unrelated sites demonstrate people who never watched the show are anxious to join.

"I want to be part of the greatest network protest in history," they say.

While Find The Boots suggests that CBS ride the viral marketing storm a little longer, I remain unconvinced this is a prudent choice for the network. Leaving mainstream media like Newsday with nothing more than rumors that Jericho "might" make next season's fall lineup or be wrapped up in two hour movie only motivates the Jericho fan base.

The longer CBS waits to respond with anything definitive, the more likely it will have to address its decision to a mob of angry fans outside CBS headquarters. In such a scenario, competing stations would have no choice but to cover the story, solidifying CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler's call to cancel the show as the worst decision in network history (even if she reverses it). Such a label would be unforgettable, given that the public tends to be unforgiving of executives who respond too little, too late.

Sure, some people think I'm giving too much credit to the fans; even one of my best "social media" friends said I was nuts to give the Jericho story so much attention. I disagree, but only because I have the advantage of understanding what this might mean.

Having had contact with one of the two Jericho fan base leaders, I'm convinced things will get worse before they get better unless CBS comes to the table soon. The once makeshift fanbase has developed into a well-structured movement with two leaders, 10 commanders, several dozen lieutenants, and thousands of fans. In the last few days, they've added international commanders as well.

The two leaders have taken time off from work, dedicating almost 18 hours per day to the cause. The rest of the command base dedicates anywhere from 4-12 hours a day, every day. Most of them meet on the CBS Jericho forums, which demonstrates how once a network creates a social community, it's not easy to undo.

Since the beginning, they've also picked up several members with lobbying backgrounds and marketing knowledge. And, they are occasionally given tips from members of the media, like Jericho fan and popular BlogTalkRadio personality Shaun O'Mac. In fact, the NUTS campaign origination is credited to his first show covering the story.

According to Schumi07, one of the two designated command leaders for Jericho fans at Jericho Lives, the NUTS campaign means much more than a historic viral marketing effort. It represents "millions of uncounted fans that the Nielsen ratings system does not accurately represent."

It also reveals how much heart these fans really have. When asked what was the biggest surprise since the campaign began, Schumi07 mentioned several, including her rise to a leadership position.

"I'm surprised I'm one of the two leaders because I just wanted my TV show back ... I can't speak for everyone, but the entire core command probably feels the same. None of us have never fought for a TV show before," said Schumi07. "The other surprise is that Nina Tassler responded to our campaign within 48 hours. We know Nina Tassler likes the show."

Schumi07 added that she is most amazed by the dedication of the command group and the fans. Even on iTunes, they are winning. After a single request, the season finale of Jericho moved from 87 to 43. When she looked this morning, it had climbed, and continues to climb, even higher.

Still wondering why I find this fascinating? Jericho fans have raised the bar on social media mobilization. So if you're in business, it's something worth watching because next time it might not be a show that customers decide to stand behind.



JayEpoch on 5/25/07, 2:38 PM said...

JayEpoch again here Rich... just going off our thread on my journal I thought I'd share a link to a 2 part article I found today on Engadet:

Part 1:
Part 2:

Not sure if you'd find this interesting!


Rich on 5/25/07, 2:42 PM said...

Thanks Jay! I'll be sure to check them out!

I also wanted to mention CBS News' Michele Filgate is the lastest to write about, um, CBS right here on ShowBuzz. (Hat tip to a Jericho fan on this one.)

JayEpoch on 5/25/07, 3:19 PM said...

Hey Rich,
Cool. I went to go see Pirates 3 last night with my friend Chloe and her Mom. Her step dad couldn't make it (the one who wrote for Jericho) but she did tell me that they (CBS Network) might consider letting them (CBS Studios) sell Jericho to another station... not sure if this has been mentioned anywhere.

Rich on 5/25/07, 4:06 PM said...

Hey Jay,

I appreciate the tip. I think CBS is trying to weigh their options. There have been many rumblings that range from the wrap up movie, second season, and sale of the series. I know you have a credible source, which adds a lot more weight.

This is not an easy decision for the network anymore. And with each passing day, it will become more difficult. Personally, I think they would have been best served by pinning it to summer DVD sales on a fast-tracked first season release plus the commitment of a partial season, but that's no longer an option. The fans would have bought DVDs instead of nuts — nearing 20,000 pounds of nuts in fact — and it would have quelled any chance this could become a mainstream protest.

SyFy Portal has been floating ideas and rumors too, but it's all guesswork (no, CW won't do it). My take on it is this, from a public relations perspective: if they make a decision within a week, they should bring it back for a second season on a new night.

If they make the decision in two weeks, they might as well release the show because they won't be able to recover from the damage done to the CBS brand. Even if they somehow managed diffuse the crisis, they will look like broadcast bullies to the fans that support their show to begin with.

One of the best things Schumi said that didn't fit the above post is that they really don't want this to be a personal attack on Tassler. I could not agree more. However, if things continue as the are, their will, however unfortunate, be consequences to Tassler's career. In essence, this has possibly put her job on the bubble.

I will say that I am hoping for a speedy resolution that makes everyone happy. At the moment, that resolution would be for CBS to save their show today, right now, before the ads run. Otherwise, this crisis communication case study will be nothing more than damage control for CBS.

BTW, I read those articles you sourced and they provide some great insights. Something to revisit and source for sure! Rich

JayEpoch on 5/25/07, 4:24 PM said...

I'm assuming Tassler is the CBS equivalent of the CW's Dawn Ostroff? If CW picked up "Jericho" but dropped "Veronica Mars" I'd be really, really sad. But if it means the Farmer Dating show gets pushed of the CW, some good would come of it.

Besides their image/public relations, why does CBS need to make the decision so soon? Do the advertisers buy their spots for the Fall shows now? I don't really know much about this, but if they were to bring it back mid-season or even next summer why would they need to decide now?

I know my friend's step dad has moved on and is working on the new Kelsey Grammer sitcom, if this is the case for most of the Jericho writers it might be impossible to bring it back properly?

Rich on 5/25/07, 4:48 PM said...

Well Jay, you nailed one of the points. How many writers, actors, production people will move on before any resolution can be reached? ... but that's not where I was coming from with a consideration to wrap it up early.

I was just speaking from a perspective of what it best for CBS, which happens to coincide with the wishes of the fans. Sooner or later, no matter what answer the network had, fans will be left with the feeling they had to force a resolution. No one will be satisfied if it comes to that. Of course, there is always the chance that this could roll into the mainstream once those ads break ... and who knows what will happen then?

There are other complex questions being added into the equation because we're on the verge of old media becoming new media (check out Beth Comstock's interview with WALLStrip in our Video Shuffle. Very smart!). As this transition occurs, people are wondering what the new measures of success might be and how do you sell that. Most are not sure what they want them to be. It is not traditional Nielson ratings; that seems certain.

CBS has a lot of talented people so I would not count them out. But the bottom line is if they consider a win NOT bringing a show with 8 million viewers (and who knows who many more because of this campaign) back on the air, then it seems an empty victory at the expense of what ... credibility? Maybe.

Rich on 5/25/07, 6:09 PM said...

Famous Last Words?

"We, the producers, are so moved by the outpouring of support for "Jericho." The way this show has resonated with our audience means the world to us. We have the greatest fans. We appreciate their tireless efforts to help their favorite show return to television. We are doing everything we can to help in that endeavor." — Dan Shotz, producer of Jericho, to ABC.

Unknown on 5/25/07, 6:11 PM said...

Hi Rich -

As usual, we're in almost complete agreement.

I don't think that CBS is running a risk of delaying as long as in the end they capitalize on the PR being generated by this viral campaign. And I think it's probably impossible for them to react very quickly. Even if Nina Tassler had decided after the first dump truck of nuts showed up that they should bring the show back to capitalize on this, it would take quite a bit of time to coordinate their next move. The decision cycle at a company that size is just too slow to react to every move made by an internet fueled movement, so their best bet is to just ride the wave and try not to make any huge mistakes.

I imagine they're in a wait and see mode to see if the movement grows legs. If it fizzles, nothing lost. If it takes off, so much the better. They just need to come up with a way to make that a cash flow positive event.

And that's why it appears that CBS is stonewalling. They're not, they just can't react that fast.

NHAQUEES on 5/25/07, 6:19 PM said...

First of all I'd like to thank you for this great blog. Its nice to see someone out there who not only understands what we are doing, but is behind us.
I'm a 36 yr old mother of 2 pre-teen daughters, so I'm not exactly in the "younger" viewing audience. However I made sure I was home and in front of the tv every Wednesday night to watch Jericho. There are not many shows out there I would do that for, actually a total of 3, and Jericho is one of them.
In this day of mundane and over-exposed "Reality" tv, its nice to have one show that is worth watching. You can only have so many American Idols, or America's Next Top Model, before you want to gouge your eyes out with a fork.

Anonymous said...

Rich, A quick question with a longer follow up.

1) Where does Quincy Smith fit into all of this? Is he an ally that can help, or does he want to scap Jericho and start fresh.

2) One press release and one article that caught my eye today: The press release (
indicates that "CBS Audience Network" is going forward. Wouldn't be in CBS and their partners' best interest to have a fan base like Jericho around when this kick this off, rather than alienate them?

And then the article (
follows up on this, and even states "The syndication deal is designed to make more short-form CBS content available through embedded viral videos, with "CSI," "Jericho," NCIS" and "Numb3rs" among the participating shows." Where does Jericho fit into this if it has been canceled?

JerichoFan71 on 5/25/07, 9:23 PM said...

" I will say that I am hoping for a speedy resolution that makes everyone happy. At the moment, that resolution would be for CBS to save their show today, right now, before the ads run. Otherwise, this crisis communication case study will be nothing more than damage control for CBS. "

Very well send. This is a great article and it speaks for all of the Rangers as well as the viewing public. The old way of counting viewers is no longer working. Networks should be more aware of what the viewers want.

This cause is about more than just saving Jericho now. This is about let the networks know that no longer will viewers be force-fed mindless shows and cheap to air reality shows.

Rich on 5/26/07, 8:35 AM said...

Jat and Jerichofan, Thanks for your wonderful comments! As well as the Jericho fan base has come together, it deserves coverage.

BoonDoogie ... I agree, but let's not underestimate any networks ability to turn on a dime. They are much, much faster than almost any major company, which leads right to what dwcareless mentions.

While it's difficult to say where Quincy Smith stands on Jericho, it's easy to see that he has a lot to do with Howard Lindzon being long on CBS.

There is another great round up on the moves of networks at The Washington Post.

shuffy2 on 5/27/07, 5:11 PM said...

Great article... thanks for the attention :) SAVE JERICHO!! DON'T GIVE UP THE FIGHT!


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