EVENTS AND PROMOS RULE DURING SWEEPS;NBC USES SOME DINO-MIGHT AS CBS' BLITZ SETS NEW RECORD

Published on .

TV premiere of "Jurassic Park."

The peacock network is recasting itself as the pterodactyl network with the monthlong promotion and marketing event.

One tie-in will involve the Ford Explorer, which appeared in the movie, and another will include AT&T for a "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" band search promotion.

NBC and Ford Motor Co. are teaming for a radio promotion in the top 25 markets entitled "Jurassic Park-Ford Explorer-Kauai Getaway." A grand prize winner in each market will get a trip for two to Kauai, where the film was made. The radio effort will be handled in-house by NBC.

At CBS, the month will be "A-May-Zing," as that network runs its first-ever themed promotion geared to the sweeps, with the effort being handled in-house.

It's the biggest May promotional blitz in CBS' history and likely for network TV at large, said George Schweitzer, exec VP-marketing and communications.

"We are very much into big event programming and big event marketing in May," said Mr. Schweitzer, noting that for CBS the month is particularly important for turning the network's flagging momentum around as it heads into 1995-96 advertiser upfront sales presentations, as well as its annual affiliates meeting.

"May is a critical month for our affiliates, because [the data from the May sweeps affect sales until November]. They sell off their May books for five months," Mr. Schweitzer said.

Though not branding the entire month, ABC and Fox are also playing the hype game, but they will be focusing on specific programs.

As CBS seeks to amaze and NBC to thrill, ABC is going for the spooks with its biggest push of the sweeps behind the May 14 telecast of Stephen King's "The Langoliers." Included is a point-of-purchase tie-in with 2,000 retail bookstore outlets nationwide built around a reissue of Mr. King's anthology "Four Past Midnight"-the cover will include a prominent reference to the TV movie.

"The Langoliers" is also being supported with an extensive public relations campaign and guerrilla marketing tactics, including posters and bus panels in major markets by ABC agency Grey Entertainment, New York, and a multimedia press kit, including a special CD-ROM about the movie.

Unlike the special event programming of the Big 3 networks, Fox is adopting its traditional sweeps strategy of turning regular series programming into big events, including major series season finales and cliff-hangers.

The tactic includes theme weeks, such as "Countdown to Summer" and "More Weddings & Some Funerals Week." The latter will feature nuptials on "Beverly Hills, 90210," "Martin," "Married .*.*. With Children" and "Melrose Place," and funeral-related events on "Cops," "America's Most Wanted" and "X-Files."

Fox had still not decided by late last week how it would handle the "Melrose Place" finale in light of the recent tragedy in Oklahoma City. That episode, in addition to a wedding, was said to include a cliff-hanger involving a bombing.

Fox also will have big finales for "90210" and "X-Files." A major cliff-hanger is planned for the season finale of "The Simpsons," dubbed "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" that will spark a summerlong promotional event, handled in-house. A major marketing partner will be involved, which Senior VP-Scheduling and Marketing Strategy Doug Binzak wouldn't name.

"It's the first ever animated cliff-hanger show," he said. "We think the summer sweepstakes promotion may end up being the biggest promotion ever for a single series."

The sweepstakes will be based on solving the mystery of who shot "Simpsons" character Mr. Burns and will include major radio and consumer promotions, as well as a dedicated World Wide Web site for cyber-sleuths. The finale will be filled with clues, including red herrings.

Looking ahead to fall, Fox is animating multiple endings to the episode that will solve the "Simpsons" mystery.

In this article:
Most Popular