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NBC's Non-Social-Media Campaign Is Trying to Stalk You Into Watching 'Whitney' (Good Luck With That)

The MediaWorks Guide to Fall TV: 'Whitney'

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Whitney Cummings
Whitney Cummings Credit: NBC

I sort of feel like the marketing team for NBC's new sitcom "Whitney" (which premieres tonight at 9:30 E.T.) has been stalking me -- using old media, oddly enough. Every day for at least a month I've been passing several telephone-kiosk ads in my Manhattan neighborhood plugging "Whitney," including one with the headline "HALF OF ALL MARRIAGES END" in giant type, followed by "IN SWEATPANTS" in smaller type just below it. And then just yesterday, literally one block away from a "Whitney" kiosk ad, I picked up a copy of the New York edition of the satirical newspaper The Onion, and when I paged through it I spotted three full-page ads in a row for "Whitney."

OK, OK already! I'll watch it -- if only out of gratitude to NBC for helping to keep The Onion afloat.

(By the way, Carlos Cabrera over at Nerve.com recently railed on the show's outdoor campaign here: "People really don't like the ad campaign for 'Whitney'.")

Meanwhile, NBC has hardly slacked on using newer forms of media to promote the show, including YouTube, where a "Whitney" preview clip first posted in May has racked up more than 600,000 views to date. ("Whitney" has a built-in fan base because its star, comedian Whitney Cummings, has a built-in fan base.) One of the more recent preview clips is even titled "Skype." We're embedding it below as part of the MediaWorks Guide to Fall TV, our ongoing series of video cheat-sheets to help you stay on top of the cultural/media conversation about the season's brand new shows.

And here are your CliffNotes for the show, via NBC:

NBC's new multi-camera comedy "Whitney" is a hilarious look at modern-day love, which centers around Whitney (Whitney Cummings, "Chelsea Lately") and Alex (Chris D'Elia, "Glory Daze"), a happily unmarried couple. Together for three years, the duo is in no rush to get hitched, which seems to get a mixed response from their friends.

Whitney's close circle of girlfriends includes, on one side, Lily (Zoe Lister-Jones, "The Other Guys"), a romantic idealist who loves being in love, and on the other, Roxanne (Rhea Seehorn, "The Starter Wife"), a recent divorcee who is practical, cynical and dreading being single again. Lily and Roxanne's opposing points of view only exacerbate Whitney's own complicated outlook on relationships.

Completing their close-knit group is Neal (Maulik Pancholy, NBC's "30 Rock"), a real modern-day Renaissance man -- sensitive and cool, knows a little bit about everything and happens to be dating Lily. On the other end of the spectrum is Whitney and Alex's next-door neighbor Mark (Dan O' Brien, "How I Met Your Mother "), a police officer and total bachelor, who claims to be the ultimate player, but likes to talk a good game.

At the end of the day, Whitney and Alex try to have a relationship on their own terms -- in a world that expects a more traditional approach.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.
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