Saturday, June 16

Promoting Jericho: Fan Buzz

Since reversing its decision to cancel Jericho, CBS has entered into a developing partnership of sorts with fans. The network released the summer rebroadcast schedule for them to promote (9 p.m. Friday, July 6), requested input on the Jericho boards (hint to CBS: see NBC's Heroes), and engaged some fans with direct participation.

Keep in mind, it has only been 10 days since Jericho was resurrected (even though it feels much, much longer). How are the fans doing? Not bad. Slowly, there has been some semblance of organization, but overall, the focus seems to be on ideas (even on the CBS message boards). So, we thought it might be fun to highlight a few ideas that stand out and skip on organization for now, hoping things don’t become more fragmented.

Fan Ads. "Rubberpoultry," who has designed several ads and banners for Jericho fans, has become a central contact for promotions. He designed the ad above, which has great graphic merit despite missing a bit on the message. While the message appeals to fans, the copy would be better served if it was written for non-fans, providing a better call to action (same with the banner). Don't get me wrong though, it's among the best of the best. For a fairly comprehensive roundup of images, scroll to the bottom of this Jericho page.

Fan Radio. If anyone earned the moniker "voice of the fans," Shaun O Mac nailed it. Enough so that CBS flew him out to meet some of the stars (Skeet Ulrich, Brad Beyer, Richard Speight, and Bob Stephenson) and Carol Barbee, executive producer of Jericho. CBS filmed some of the tour; and the footage is rumored to be made into a video news release or perhaps make the DVD. On June 10, Shaun invited me as a last-minute guest on his show. It was fun, but Jericho fans will likely enjoy some earlier shows with several of the Jericho's stars and Barbee. Shaun's someone to watch, er, listen to when he talks Jericho or not.

Fan Forums. While most fans seem to use the CBS message boards as a focal point, I still think Jericho Rally Point is better suited for fan business (unless fans want CBS to usher in the fan club). NutsOnline also launched a Jericho fan forum with the best idea there to break up the forum into states, similar to an effort on Yahoo Groups.

Fan Groups. Speaking of fan groups, Lisa Lludvicek has done a solid job communicating and coordinating some efforts in Kansas, including her promotion of 11 viewing parties before the debut of the second season. The viewing parties, held at Governor’s Stumpys Grill Kansas City, are purposely not held on nights that CBS airs Jericho. They do provide fans an opportunity to meet each other, rally more viewers, and raise funds for Greensburg, which was devastated by tornadoes.

Fan Blogs. Several blogs have sprung up and JerichoOnCBS is one of my favorites. Lisa Coultrup (kystorms) has done a solid job keeping up on the news and adding some great round-ups, including: letters from producers and celebrities, and various online contact points. In many ways, she’s providing a centralized round-up that forums just can’t deliver (check out rubberpoultry's Star Wars/Jericho parody there!). Another blog, Jericho Monster, provides a broader view, which includes conversations about the Nielsens and a link to the Black Donnellys petition.

A few other ideas that deserve mention are the pursuit of the Guinness submission and the Jericho Saved site by Jeff Knoll. The latter includes a great summary of his media tour with Lennie James (that was as brilliant as the purposefully stark nut ads Knoll produced).

So, assuming the fans still have an 8-9 million viewer base to work from, they only need 3 million more viewers to have a hit show or close to the top 20. It's doable. It seems to me CBS is doing its part on several levels, making me seriously doubt those rumors that the new seven episodes were nothing but a ruse to end the war. I think CBS has decided it might as well go for a winner with Jericho. Kudos to them for doing what appears to be a 360-degree turn on how CBS sees its viewers.

That's not to say the story is all hugs and roses. Far from it. Some fragmentation, duplication of efforts, and the lack of a solid message targeting new viewers are all working against the greater effort (before it was nuts, but nuts doesn't seem like the right message anymore). It's not surprising; protests are always easier to grow than a fan base. To her credit, Schumi has done some good in delegating "idea" categories to willing volunteers. While I wish it would have been done a bit different, it's still a step in the right direction.



Sweet Tea on 6/16/07, 3:48 PM said...

I feel like a Rich groupie because I fawn over your articles so much. Thank you for another great one & thanks for mentioning my blog. TBD fans are such a kind group that I had to add their petition to help them out.
You mentioned targeting new viewers. This campaign is more difficult than the Nuts one because 1) we need to target Nielsen viewers & they could be anywhere & 2) people seem to be off & running with various ideas as opposed to, in the past, having received Mission Orders every day. This is much different from having one person say, " Let's all send an email here."
Hopefully, it will all fall into place & we'll see many more seasons.

Rich on 6/16/07, 4:04 PM said...

Thanks JS.

Yes, that is what I am seeing too. Lots of different directions. If you picture a big giant arrow with lots of little arrows zooming around inside (all in different directions), that seems to be what is. Lots of companies run that way too. Really, you want all those little arrows moving in the same direction as the big arrow.

I'm so glad you brought up Nielsen because I meant to mention that CBS has said it will welcome non-Nielsen viewer notification into its assessment of the series (online). There is no real way to target Nielsen people because they cannot tell you they are Nielsen people (while they are Nielsen people). The best you can do is gin up a 11+ viewership and hope Nielsen captures it.

The only other alternative is that CBS changes its mind on how it wants to view Nielsen. You might find this interesting (mind you, it's summertime), but the top 20 show according to Nielsen in the June 22 issue of EW was only 7.6 million. The top of the pile up was 13 million.

Ergo, either people are not watching television at all (which I don't believe because I can look out my upstairs window and see plenty of flickering screens around the neighborhood), people have so many options that networks are going to have to suck it up and accept smaller viewership, or Nielsen needs to hurry up it's hurry up because it's becoming a non-measure.

No need to thank me for mentioning your blog. I did because you are NOT trying to do the same thing ... you are doing your own thing and Jericho just happens to be a big part of that. (In other words, you're operating outside the big arrow.)

Thanks for dropping by. You always provide great comments and that's just as important if not more important than the post sometimes.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for another great article.

CNYfan on 6/16/07, 4:53 PM said...

Thank you for another terrific article. Your suggestions have been helpful to the Jericho effort. I truly appreciate your ideas and know that I am not alone in that.

cbsplaysdirty on 6/16/07, 4:54 PM said...

You went out on a limb for us when times were tough and everyone was telling us to 'get a life'. You picked a winning horse Rich, and your articles are all bang on. Keep up the good work!

kystorms on 6/16/07, 6:32 PM said...

Dear Rich

Thank you so very much for your comments about my blog, I am trying to be the place where everyone can come for the new info, and to see that someone likes reading there makes my day! I appreciate what you said about fragmentation, its a worry I have and now that its been put into words here I know others will want to discuss this more openly.
As always, I learned something today,now I hope I can put what I learned here into practice.

SaveJake on 6/16/07, 6:41 PM said...

It's funny, we were just discussing this same problem. Organization is good but ideas have to be implemented to work. Our brainstorming has turned into management's like going to work everyday!
Thanks again Rich.

LisiBee on 6/16/07, 6:52 PM said...

Thank you for continuing to focus on the fan's efforts to promote Jericho. I personally appreciate your input into what we're doing, and what we're trying to accomplish.

PlatPat on 6/16/07, 7:46 PM said...

Dear Rich,

Thank you so much for your advice - and it's free, too!!

Although I understand what you are saying about the campaign seeming fractured, I believe that right now it is truly a grassroots effort. From reading the message board, I see that the fans are concentrating on getting the word out by the use of items like bumper stickers, wearing T Shirts, leaving business cards and flyers - someone left 3000 flyers on cars at Dover Downs! People are posting flyers at supermarkets, in waiting rooms, at train stations, -- you get the picture. The nuts campaign was on-line and we could watch it happen. Now the campaign is getting personal, coming directly to the people.

I think that although we each have a different way to get there, the fans are all on the same wave-length -- get people watching and talking about it.

We can do this - it's easy - just watch the show. The show will sell itself.

Thanks for your help. Keep the suggestions coming. We really, really appreciate it.

Rich on 6/17/07, 9:29 AM said...

Hey everyone! Thanks for dropping by.

I have faith the fans will find the right mix for the fans. Sure, there are pros and cons in organization.

For Jericho fans, the pros would be to streamline your communication efforts and end endless duplications. Keep in mind that most people who are not fans cannot visit thousands of sites, forums, blogs, etc. to learn about a show. They'll likely visit two or three tops, and each better have some unique elements (which almost all of those I mentioned do) or you've lost them.

Sure, you cannot stop anyone from giving those who have something in place a run for their money. (Heck, that would be un-American even!)
However, one thing to consider is that in some cases, the interaction that potential future fans have could very well be one forum, blog, etc. Imagine that for a minute...

Take a look around and ask yourself, which ones would want these people to see? And, if everyone has a different message, which one do you hope they remember? And will they remember if it's not the right one?

I see some people are working on organization and I think it's a great thing to move it from grassroots into a real fan group, if for no other reason than to narrow the message and demonstrate to new viewers that while many people say they are Jericho fan sites, only a few have captured some official standing.

That doesn't mean you have to give up on the ideas. All it means is that unless you have an original idea (something no one is doing), it might be best to run with what others have already done (if it's good). For the good of the show mind you, no other reason.

Platpat! Oh, I so hope you are right that the show can sell itself. But then again, we might not be here now if that were true. In other words, I might live in Vegas, but I wouldn't touch that bet. (I don't gamble anyway, but people expect me to toss something about that in sometimes. Ha!)

All my best, Rich

Anonymous said...

Yesterday was such a busy day on the RL scene that I'm a day behind on my reading! Awesome article! The most important thing that I get from your articles is from the objective point of view standpoint. Most of us are on the inside looking out and perhaps don't see the big picuture all the time!

I continue to maintain (my opinion only..from the inside) that the most important thing to do at this point is to break out to the local levels and get the word out to promote Jericho! It's really nice to see CBS stepping up to the plate a bit in this arena, which really helps the effort and should make it easier to promote locally!

Secondly, I think that blogs on anything "Jericho" remain very important to attend to, as, it's become apparent that "news" is being picked up via bloggers. I still try to post to any news item (where a comment is possible) and even if I get a few days behind, I try and catch up! In my own opinion, this is one of the ways the viral campaign grew to be so successful!

Shaunomac IS the Voice of Jericho, is he not??!! His involvement in the campaign and now in the "promote Jericho" endeavor has been invaluable. His support of the FANS has been wonderful! I hear that CBS is talking about a PODCAST of their own on the show....hmmm wonder if they have thought about hiring this "Voice of Jericho" since we all love him SO much. Others can try and duplicate..but Shaunomac remains the master!

I'm guessing that if the fans promote hard enough we will naturally gain a few Nielsen families attention! I saw on the Niesen site where you could sign up for the newsletter (which I did) and you can apply to be a clinet (which I did) and there are many ways in which to contact Nielson, (which I have). However, the main goal for me is to remain focused on promoting Jericho to NEW viewers!

I continue to read all your blogs! I'm learning alot! Thanks a bunch!

Donna on 6/18/07, 5:49 AM said...

Centralization will be tough with such a diverse group, I think. I am glad to live in KS and have what looks like a well-organized front developing.

My efforts right now are concentrated on dropping Jericho into conversation with my friends to find out who was already watching and making sure they watch again, and finding out who wasn't watching and making sure they know what Jericho is really about. A lot of people I know who didn't watch make a knee-jerk, The-Day-After-no-more-melting-radiated-victims decision based on the marketing.

If CBS can re-market Jericho with more empahsis on the isolation and self-preservation front, I think they will gain viewers. I loved rubber's flag ad as well because that altered US flag is an eye catcher.

Thanks for your continued analysis and contributions!


Rich on 6/18/07, 7:37 AM said...

Thanks for the input everyone. I've glanced at the boards as well.

Centralization might seem harder than it is though I appreciate why some fans might not want to (and it's fine if you don't). Often, there are far fewer right and wrong answers than there are answers that maximize your return or help you reach your goals faster.

Most important, if you are working together (which is seems most of you are) then there is never a good time to launch a project that mirrors another (eg. The Jericho Times worked because, as far as I know, there wasn't another unofficial newsletter). Now if three other people start newsletters to compete with this established newsletter when they could be doing something else, then what's the point?

Donna, I think what you're doing is great. Not everyone is going to want to work out the details of an organized group. There is also obviously something to be said for local chapters of sorts because it makes people real. Bluesapphire (Lisa L) and Kansas fans have made some great moves in this area. I don't think these efforts have to preclude a national organization.

I'm also a fan of Rubberpoultry's work (I have not seen the design you mentioned). But I will say that playing off the altered flag that represents the people behind the terrorism. As such, well, I'll never be able to wrap myself up in that one, much like I'd never wear a swastika. It's a personal choice.

Sure, it's fiction. Sure, if there was a game, I might play the bad guys. But all in all, the altered flag hits too close to home and turns a lot of people off, which is never a good idea if you're trying to build a viewer base. There is nothing wrong with it being in the show; I just don't see it as a fan symbol and if it were, I wouldn't write nicely about it.

Besides, there are at least six other factions vying for power in The Jericho Universe. We don't know enough about them to know if one of them, besides the people of Jericho, have managed to protect our country's values. When we do, I'll be the first to get behind a flag that best represents our country, which is probably the one we have now.

But that's me. I love my country and constitution too much to get behind an altered flag, especially one that represents evil.

All my best, Rich


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