'Mr. Mom' a disappointment in the living room

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America just doesn't seem ready to embrace Mr. Mom.

The NBC show, an Omnicom-produced branded-entertainment play in which four major marketers together invested an estimated $5 million, got off to a disappointing start, forcing the network to follow CBS's lead in blowing up its reality schedule.

The Aug. 2 premiere of "Meet Mr. Mom"-produced by Full Circle Entertainment and Ben Silverman's Reveille-snagged a disappointing 1.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic, though that number had grown to 2.1 by Aug. 23. Unfortunately for Mr. Mom, "Tommy Lee Goes to College" premiered that same night to a promising 2.8 rating in the demo, an increase of 42% over lead-in "Mr. Mom." Then "Mr. Mom" was bumped to Wednesday, where last week it drew 1.5 in the demo. "From a ratings standpoint, it was trending up and then it leveled off this week," said Robert Riesenberg, CEO, Full Circle. "Perhaps it needs to find its audience again."

NBC's move last week came two weeks after CBS blew up the schedule of Mark Burnett's heavily integrated "Rockstar:INXS," jettisoning one of its nights to sibling cable channel VH1.

In each "Mr. Mom" episode, two fathers compete to see who can better handle the household after mom's whisked away to a spa. Clorox, Nissan, State Farm and JC Penney are all integrated into storylines and provided promotional backing for the show.

A spokesman for Clorox, whose Glad line of products appears in the show, said the company "has been happy with the viewership response to `Meet Mr. Mom'... We believe that `Meet Mr. Mom' was the perfect show for Clorox products." A statement from Nissan said the automaker is "still very excited about `Meet Mr. Mom's' integration. ... Nissan accepted NBC's switching of the show to Wednesday nights to capture more home TV viewers, and looks forward to continuing its momentum with audiences."


Summer broadcast viewing is down across the board-NBC's 18-49 ratings in particular are down about 25%, according to Nielsen Media Research. And the move could be good for the show, which routinely finished third or fourth in the Tuesday 8 p.m. ratings race-losing out to repeats of CBS's "NCIS" and Fox's "Trading Spouses." Wednesday is a less competitive night with only Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" enjoying middling ratings success. But by most accounts, the ratings goal for "Meet Mr. Mom" should have been at least twice what the show is actually getting.

"There's some research being done on this and it may very well be the overall exposure value makes up for any ratings differential for the show if it's a little off of where we expected," said Guy McCarter, director-entertainment and marketing, OMD.

Added Mr. Riesenberg: "It's really about engaging the consumer, not just the [number of] impressions."

All the brands are promoting their integration outside of the show, from Clorox running "Mr. Mom" advertorials in six national magazines to JC Penney advertising its involvement in its stores.

But there is the quality vs. quantity argument.

"It's not about how much someone is seeing the brand but more about whether the brand is being seen in the right situation," said Tom Meyer, president of entertainment marketing firm Davie Brown, which negotiated Gatorade's placement in ratings disappointment "The Contender." In that show, "Gatorade was seen in an authoritative environment and used in an organic manor. And in that respect [the deal] was worth it."

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