Wednesday, May 23

Remembering Jericho: Back Lot Projects

Rarely have I have worked on a communication case study for the Copywrite, Ink. blog that so clearly galvanizes an audience as the CBS cancellation of Jericho. Sure, we’ve covered a few under-reported stories that have caught the attention of hundreds of readers; some who stay on long after the specific story fades into obscurity. But the CBS Jericho story does not attract hundreds. It attracts thousands. It does not seem to be fade away, but rather grows stronger every day.

As Jericho fans have taken to publicizing our case study in social media and crisis communication, we’ve covered it on more consecutive days than any other topic. Why? Analytics alone demonstrate the value of this very smart audience. They read long, deep, and come from all over the nation (and world). Some have even taken to searching past communication posts, looking for ideas.

I’m not the only place they are looking. While I have not verified these facts, Jericho-On-CBS has published some startling numbers: Jericho was the most watched show for CBS online (450,000 hits a week); Jericho delivered the highest rating in a Wednesday time slot in seven years; and Jericho frequently beat the competition in its time slot despite going up against some tough contenders. (This does not even consider how many fans watched reality shows like American Idol live and then saved Jericho on their DVRs for later.)

If all this is true, then CBS Entertainment made a mistake claiming that the show had lost steam based on ratings. It seems more likely that Jericho simply didn’t fit into CBS’s new fall line-up, purported to be hipper and edgier than past efforts. From a branding standpoint (before the backlash), it makes sense. But from a customer-centric standpoint (after the backlash), it does not.

In some ways, I appreciate where CBS might have been coming from. Some of our colleagues and online associates have cautioned me (using my own words in fact) that quantitative measures (number of visitors) should not overshadow qualitative measures (number of prospects or regular reders). In other words, they’re wondering when I might get back to a broader mix of topics. I have something else planned for tomorrow, but I just don’t know. If something breaks on Jericho, then Jericho is it. Yes, again.

You see, as I learn more about the Jericho fans, they continue to amaze me in how well they’ve come together. One said I made them sound like geniuses, recognizing that public relations professionals and political consultants might be envious of their efforts. Sure, I know in many cases these fans stumbled unto some of it, but that’s just part of the American way. We stumble upon lots of things. More to the point, however, I like to believe that imagination is more important than knowledge and this case study might prove it.

CBS is using its knowledge to justify canceling the show. The fans are using their imagination to save it. The huge volume of orders for nuts, 9,000 pounds at last count, is only a sliver of the number of nuts sent as social media has embraced this story along with a growing number of mainstream media outlets, especially dailies, entertainment weeklies, and local CBS affiliates.

Given this news, I’m putting more even faith in the fans of Jericho, even if CBS has yet to realize it might do the same. Last night, after deadlines were met, my team put together the “Remember Jericho” image as a thank you to all the fans who have popularized our case study. And, we’ve added it to a few T-shirts in our almost-ready-for-primetime online merchandise store.

As a thank you to the fans, especially Jericho Lives and Jericho Rally Point, and to ensure I remain an communication observer (my family and many team members are big fans of the show; they are the ones who encouraged me to write about it to begin with), any proceeds beyond the base price set by will be donated to the NUTS campaign. If the campaign should end, then we’ll donate it to an appropriate charity. I don’t want to detract from the funding efforts of our campaign elements nor do I want to want to make money on their efforts. (If I release a book by year’s end as planned, you can always consider that instead, as the Jericho story will be included).

The link to the Jericho T-shirts is at Back Lot Projects. Just a few tidbits about the shirt: it’s an adaptation of a vintage World War II war bonds poster, which we thought was fitting with Memorial Day almost weekend upon us and the all the patriotism that seems to surround the show. The ‘Remember Jericho 07’ line plays off another historic rally cry in American history (Remember the Alamo). But besides all that, it was fun to make.

In closing, if not every future post is Jericho focused, keep in mind that we track case studies for a long time, so there will always be another post unless we close it out. We’ll also keep adding updates in the comments. In the interim, if you are a fan and like the image, feel free to use it for non-commercial purposes.

Until then, good luck! And, what else? NUTS!



Rich on 5/23/07, 11:41 AM said...

Famous Words From Lennie James:

"To the family, friends, and fans of Jericho,

I write to you from my home in London utterly staggered by the events of the last week or so. I, along with all the cast and crew from the show, was totally gutted (UK slang for 'very upset') when news came down that our show was cancelled. As has been said by others who have posted here, Jericho was a special time for so many of us. We worked so well together and it was almost effortless, so easy. Don't get me wrong it wasn't all plain sailing, we fought and we argued and some days were best forgotten...But most days, almost everyday on Jericho was a joy. If I had to be as far away from my family, as I had to be to do this job, I could not have picked a finer bunch of people to be with than the cast, crew, writers and producers of this show.

As if that wasn't enough, my luck ran further because I was given the gift of playing Robert Hawkins. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I was given to bring that man to life. He kept me on my toes and kept me honest. I enjoyed his company so much.

As I say, that was about as much luck as any one actor, any one show, deserved...but no, our luck ran still further. It turns out that we have about the most amazing fans that ever were. Truly your support and passion for Jericho is very humbling. You have stood up when all around you, including myself, gave up. You have reminded all of us involved in this rarefied world of making TV just who we are making it for. You have stopped being veiwing figures and started being individual people who cared, who enjoyed, who were entertained, and who were loyal and committed. You were a great audience and are proving to be more than we ever could have wished for.
As I said I am staggered by your show of strength and just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thanks for watching and thanks for fighting to see more.

God bless you all
Lennie "The Hawk" James"

(sourced from CBS Jericho message boards.)

Rich on 5/23/07, 11:44 AM said...

Famous Words From Shoshannah Stern:

"Hello everyone,
I can't say what an extreme week I've been having. Hearing that the show would not be coming back was so hard for me to process because my experience on the show has been nothing short of amazing. But now, seeing how great and passionate you guys are in all your campaigning, it makes me feel so unbelievably good to be a part of something that inspires people so much.
Believe me, I know what it is like to fight for something even against incredible odds. You know, if I listened to anyone who told me "no, you can't," I would never have been able to be a part of something as great as Jericho. So I am completely in tune with how you feel and you make me very proud.

Keep believing that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I know that you have inspired me to keep believing that for myself!

With much gratitude,
Shoshannah Stern (Bonnie Richmond)"

(sourced from CBS Jericho message boards.)

JayEpoch on 5/23/07, 12:09 PM said...

Rich, are there pictures of the nuts arriving at the CBS studios? Or any response from the studio on the nuts?

JayEpoch on 5/23/07, 12:12 PM said...

^ jayepoch from livejournal by the way, you commented on my post :)

Rich on 5/23/07, 12:28 PM said...

Hi Jay,

NutsOnline has been very good about collecting as many nut images as they can (including a fan video that catches one of the earliest shipments).

Go to NutsOnline. They have photos, videos, a live count, and media links. Very well done.

Rich on 5/23/07, 4:14 PM said...

Famous Donations:

Almost immediately on the heels of a fan announcement that they have collected enough money to purchase an advertisement in Variety Magazine, another rumor surfaced that CBS Entertainment would be issuing a statement soon...

But the announcement was not what the fans had hoped. According to a fan on the CBS Jericho message boards, CBS Entertainment has made arrangements for the "bulk of the boxes to be picked up by Staten Island Project Home Front, an organization that focuses on fundraising and supporting military serving in Iraq and Afghanistan."

We've also made contact with the Bronx Zoo to see if they'd like some of these, as well as local homeless shelters and food banks."

Its good see the nuts will not be wasted.

Rich on 5/23/07, 4:44 PM said...

More words:

USA Today's Tube Talk notes some of the same thing we did. You can find the article here.

Chaffee Street Cafe` on 5/23/07, 9:59 PM said...

You have been NOMINATED. Please visit Sleeping Kitten - Dancing Dog!

Anonymous said...

Rich, the speed, accuracy, and clarity of your case study analysis continues to astound me. I hope that CBS is camping your site -- I know that I am.

This reminds me a bit of the evolutionary race between dinosaurs and mammals. It seems apparent that Old Media is on the decline and New Media is rapidly filling the vacuum. My only question is if this will be a gradual process, or if there is a astroid on the way to speed things up :)

Rich on 5/24/07, 11:44 AM said...

Thank you both very much. dwcarless ... I really appreciate the feedback. I'll do my best to keep up.

And Theresa, thank you! Your nomination kicked us over the 100 Technorati count this morning. I was surprised as well as honored.

Rich on 5/24/07, 12:16 PM said...

Famous Words From Skeet Ulrich:

"To the most incredible fans ANY show has ever known:

From Skeet Ulrich

I am overwhelmed and quite honestly rendered speechless at the good will created by this show and its fans! By you, by us! I think it speaks volumes regardless of the outcome.

A week ago our show was cancelled and it feels like time has stood still ever since. We loved bringing you this story. We loved waking up at 2:30 in the morning to drive an hour and a half and work 16 hours then drive home, eager and willing to do it all again the next day. Truly we did. Because when we got there we felt like a family. I miss that the most. Lennie constantly sang as he cooked up the mystery that is Robert Hawkins. Brad's incredible comic ability! The almost constant laughter and smiles. The kindness and generosity of spirit of everyone and I mean everyone (with the exception of one extra). I could go on and on.... trust me you don't want to hear it all! And as a family we never wanted to disappoint
you. We tried desperately to stay one step ahead of you and you are a clever lot! Thanks for being there for us. I will never forget this experience and it is very hard to walk away from.

I have been fortunate to tell many different stories in my career but none has created the kind of discussions that this story has. Whether it was us in the lunchroom or people we would meet at events or people at the grocery store, invariably the discussion would turn to things much larger than the show, much more pertinent. And to me that is a success!

More to the point, however, is your generosity of spirit. I really don't know what to say....thank you doesn't suffice and my deck would collapse if we had a party so I am left somewhere in between. Your support is incredible and means more to all of us than you will ever know!

Be well. If we can all be as good to each other as you have been to us, what an incredible world we would have.



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