"Chuck" will turn five major Clear Channel radio stations across the nation into Chuck-FM from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 24, following a week of traditional spots featuring the two lead characters announcing the day. Meanwhile, promotions for "Journeyman" play off the idea of time travel by letting listeners choose playlists that take them back to a specific year.
"Radio is always one of our most important media that we use besides our own air. It allows us to reach people in cars as their driving to and from work. It also allows us to reach people close to premiere time," said Tim Farish, VP-media, NBC Universal.
NBC will be the only advertiser on the radio station for the 13 hours of Chuck-FM. Zach Levi and Josh Gomez, the series' leads, will be on air to introduce various segments such as traffic and weather as well as talk about the show (they'll get eight minutes during each hour to do so). Each station will continue with its normal programming.
"Chuck" is centered around characters who work at a "Nerd Herd," a fictional store similar to Best Buy's Geek Squad. "We thought that this may be something that folks that actually worked at a Nerd Herd would concoct. It felt fun and irreverent," Mr. Farish said. The stations for the "Chuck" promotion skew toward the younger segment of the 18- to 49-year-old demographic that NBC hopes to reach.
"We see this as the ability to be flexible for our medium to do greater large-context advertisements with our partners," commented Jeffrey Howard, president-Clear Channel Media Sales. He also noted that the critical part for radio is becoming involved early enough in the planning stages.
A time-traveling medium
The "Journeyman" radio ad (listen here), which started on Sept. 10 and is airing on 10 Clear Channel stations across the country, play off of the show's conceit that the main character can travel through time. "For promoting 'Journeyman', we were looking for all sorts of media vehicles that would allow people to travel back in time in their own head, and radio provided a terrific platform for that," said Mr. Farish. "Often times a specific song will provide a specific scene in your head."
Listeners are encouraged to go to the radio station's website and choose their own playlists that will allow them to pick songs by the same artist from past records and more recent hits. Some examples seen on New York's KTU includes Maroon 5's 2002 release "This Love" and this year's "Make Me Wonder," while listeners on Philadelphia's 106.1 can choose Bon Jovi's 1989 song "I'll Be There For You" or its 2000 anthem "It's My Life." Top song choices will be played on air during the week of Sept. 17, with "Journeyman" promotions playing before and after each song.
Setting a precedent
Mr. Howard sees this format as a precedent for future radio advertising. "It's what we call visual radio," Mr. Howard said as he described the promotions. "Online and on-air come together and it's really tremendous. 'Journeyman' is an on-air/online driven program. That's the future of a lot of these agreements as we go forward," he continued.
Radio has long been an important part of TV network advertising; this is not the first time NBC has developed an extensive radio effort. Last year the company worked with Clear Channel to develop campaigns for "Heroes" and "Treasure Hunters" that went on to win radio advertising awards. This is the first time Clear Channel Radio and NBC have done a full advertising takeover together.