Brrraaainnss! The CW Cooks Up a Tasty Marketing Stunt for 'iZombie'

Food Trucks to Target Agency Types, Civilians

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The CW's 'iZombie' food truck
The CW's 'iZombie' food truck
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If the way to a viewer's heart is through her stomach, then the CW's marketing efforts for the new horror-comedy "iZombie" are nothing if not brainy.

Beginning Wednesday, the network is deploying "iZombie"-branded food trucks in select pedestrian-friendly locations in New York and Chicago. On the menu: cerebrum-shaped cake pops and ramen burgers (depending on your perspective, the noodle-y buns either resemble brains or viscera).

The first "iZombie" truck rolled up Wednesday afternoon outside 195 Broadway, which just so happens to be the headquarters of OMD USA. On Thursday, the CW will greet passersby near Carat North America's 42nd Street HQ with a hearty "brain appétit," while Friday will find the truck doling out brain food in Times Square.

The "iZombie" marketing effort concludes with a brief Chicago sojourn, which includes an appearance outside Starcom's Wacker Drive office and a stop at Tribune Tower.

While media agencies are often the primary targets of out-of-home TV marketing efforts -- it's no coincidence that the ads on bus shelters near, say, ZenithOptimedia and MediaCom are always promoting new broadcast and cable shows -- the CW isn't overlooking the civilian population.

"We just don't have the luxury to spend off-air to reach people who aren't potential viewers," said Caty Burgess, the CW's VP of digital marketing. "These locations are very much in high-pedestrian corridors, so we're trying to hit actual viewers along with our agency partners."

On-air, the CW is doing everything it can to ensure strong sampling for "iZombie." Along with buys across what Ms. Burgess characterizes as "workhorse networks" like E! and MTV, the CW has made a significant investment on a certain AMC show. "It may not be the most efficient buy we have ever made, but we are running a spot in 'The Walking Dead,'" she said.

Media buyers who bought time in "The Walking Dead" during last summer's upfront paid nearly $415,000 for each 30-second increment of ad time. The promo is slated to air in this Sunday's installment of "The Walking Dead," which remains TV's highest-rated scripted series.

Created by Rob Thomas ("Veronica Mars"), "iZombie" is a giddy mash-up of horror, comedy and police procedural. The show starts next Tuesday, leading out of the CW's most-watched, highest-rated series, "The Flash." Synergistically speaking, the shows seem a good match, as both have roots in the DC Comics multiverse.

That the 9 p.m. competition is not exactly at peak efficiency may also work in "iZombie's" favor. While "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." goes after the same viewer demographic in the hour, the ABC sorta-superhero series is coming off its lowest rating since it debuted last fall.

In a final push, the CW will screen the "iZombie" pilot at SXSW Interactive on the night before the before the show's official TV premiere. Mr. Thomas launched the "Veronica Mars" movie at last year's SXSW, and as Ms. Burgess notes, the sensibility of the show seems to be a good fit with the presiding indie spirit of the festival.

Following the screening, "iZombie" will sponsor a soiree hosted by the seemingly ubiquitous BuzzFeed. The theme? "Party 'Til You're Undead."

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