Wandering Horsemen to Frozen Yogurt: How Broadcasters Market Fall TV

Broadcasters Are Looking for Ways to Generate Buzz

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A Headless Horseman in New York City
A Headless Horseman in New York City

Broadcasters will introduce 52 new scripted series throughout the 2013-2012 season, from shows taking off on "Alice in Wonderland" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" to a drama about an android ("Almost Human") and a comedy about the 80s ("The Goldbergs").

But last year's survival rate for new shows was a harsh 10 out of 37. (We may or may not miss you, "1600 Penn," "Last Resort," "666 Park Avenue" and "Go On.") And with increasing competition from cable and digital platforms, it's become critical for broadcasters to generate buzz for new series early.

So in addition to endless promotion on their own airwaves and paid ads in media such as bus shelters, billboards and "Entertainment Weekly," the big networks are rolling out everything from wandering Headless Horsemen to tie-in yogurt flavors.

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine": Fox took over the Jay Street/Metro Tech subway stop in Brooklyn to promote its new Brooklyn cop comedy, offering free subway rides to commuters on the morning of the premiere. Passers-by on the streets above also got free coffee and donuts.

"Sleepy Hollow": Headless Horseman roamed the streets of New York ahead of the premiere of "Sleepy Hollow." Fox put a bulk of marketing muscle behind the new drama, setting up a "Sleepy Hollow" experience in Madison Square Park in New York City, where visitors could tour the old creepy bridge and battle with the Horseman.

Free coffee in Brooklyn from Fox
Free coffee in Brooklyn from Fox
A Yogurtland flavor to promote 'The Crazy Ones'
A Yogurtland flavor to promote 'The Crazy Ones'

"The Goldbergs": If your last name is Goldberg, you could be in luck. ABC is sending over 6,800 people with the name a faux floppy disk with the pilot of "The Goldbergs" -- set in the 1980s, when floppy disks ruled -- and a customized letter from Beverly, the mom on the show. ABC has also made retro metal lunchboxes promoting the comedy, filled with iconic 80's paraphernalia like neon wristbands and Rubik's Cubes.

CBS: The eye network teamed up with Yogurtland to promote its slate of eight comedies. From Sept. 13 through Sept. 30, select Yogurtland locations in major cities will offer frozen yogurt flavors inspired by the comedies, like We are Man-go ("We are Men"), Chocolate Miller Shake ("The Millers"), Moms Hot Cocoa Meltdown ("Moms"), Cookies and Crazy Ones ("The Crazy Ones") and 2 Broke Graham Crackers ("2 Broke Girls").

"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.": This Marvel drama, a spinoff from "The Avengers," is the biggest new bet by ABC. The network is working with Microsoft's Xbox to drive awareness, releasing exclusive content over the last several weeks to Xbox owners.

"Once Upon a Time in Wonderland": ABC has promised to set up eight large, colorful mushrooms around New York City to drum up talk around its new "Once Upon a Time" spinoff, set in the world of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

"The Crazy Ones": In addition to its yogurt flavor, "The Crazy Ones" got to back to college. CBS screened the Robin Williams comedy at top TV and advertising programs, soliciting ideas from students for promoting the show and promising a summer internship at the network's marketing division for the best pitch.

"The Blacklist": NBC has been looking for ways to engage viewers beyond the hour a show airs, most recently with its live game show "Million Second Quiz." For its new drama, "The Blacklist," NBC is introducing an app asking "Are You on the Blacklist?" -- it uses your Facebook profile to "reveal" if your friends are on the show's titular list of criminals.

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