Peacock mascot's origin story not a proud moment for NBC

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Jul 27 2010
If a network is stinking up the place, aren't fart jokes completely appropriate for a branding spot? That might not have been what animation studio Nathan Love and NBC Artworks had in mind, but that's how this little piece of video reads to me. It's supposed to "explore the origins of the NBC logo," according to the animation house, with a look at how the peacock got its colors. Instead, it may just convey some viewers' reaction to The Marriage Ref. (Read: likely to cause intestinal distress). The network tied for third place with ABC in this past season's ratings race, down 4 percent in viewers from the previous season. (If it hadn't been for the well-watched Winter Olympics, NBC could've claimed the fourth-place network "prize.") Watch the video and feel free to interpret it differently. And give that peacock some Rolaids.

Will NBC's new shows be more coloful? Its marketing certainly is

Posted on Thu May 20 2010

NBC-colored-cabs

Will NBC's fall programming lineup really be "more colorful"? Maybe, if the Mr. & Mrs. Smith-inspired Undercovers from J.J. Abrams turns out to be a keeper, or Law & Order: Los Angeles rips some celebrity shenanigans from the headlines. (Hello, LiLo?) Meantime, the network's marketing sure is Skittles-like. Here's a shot of taxis in New York plastered with the every-color-in-a-Crayola-box campaign, from Pitch in Culver City, Calif. The cabs got their makeover this week to coincide with NBC's new-season announcements to advertisers. The Hilton Hotel, where the dog and pony show took place, also got wrapped with the net's multi-hued peacock mascot. Expect more rainbow ads as the fall season approaches. And even if you don't care about Love Bites (it has that funny fashionista chick from Ugly Betty!) enjoy the landscape beautification.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Conan O'Brien not going quietly, or cheaply, in last week at NBC

Posted on Fri Jan 22 2010

Conan

Conan O'Brien's gone plum wild. Not only is he joking constantly about jobs he might take when his seven-month stint on The Tonight Show is over (he recently suggested creepy shoe salesman at Lady Foot Locker), he's sticking it to NBC in the form of wildly expensive skits. Between interviews with Adam Sandler and Joel McHale on Wednesday night, he introduced a new character called the Bugatti Veyron Mouse. It was, in fact, the most expensive car in the world dressed up to look like a rodent, complete with ears and whiskers. Adorable! As a soundtrack, he chose the original master recording of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction," bringing the price tag for the comedy bit to a whopping $1.5 million. But was it funny? Sure, if you're Team Coco. The network, by the way, has suddenly lost its sense of humor and reportedly pulled the Bugatti clip from its own site and Hulu. UPDATE: Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird stopped by on Thursday night in a mink Snuggie to watch some restricted NFL footage. Price tag: $4.8 million. Ca-ching! UPDATE: The Veyron Mouse was loaned to the show by the Petersen Museum.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Brand references as common as jokes on Jay Leno's new show

Posted on Thu Oct 1 2009

The Jay Leno Show might not be a ratings sensation at 10 p.m. (though it's holding its own with better-than-expected numbers), but it's delivering on its promise to be a brand-friendly program. But how much shilling is too much? Edrants compiled this video of product plugs stuffed into nearly every segment of the show, from guests hyping their latest movies and TV projects (which is their M.O. for appearing on chat fests) to Leno's name-dropping monologue (see how many products you can count!) The series has been built, from the ground up, to be advertiser-ready. There's the airplane-hangar-sized set, suitable for accommodating Leno's classic cars and sponsor vehicles, the game-show-style partnership with McDonald's and the plan for live commercials. Who knows what impact the marketer messages, both subliminal and overt, are having on the audience, but one thing's for sure: NBC will not lose money on this gamble.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Who killed Toby? Play the 'Office' version of 'Clue' and find out

Posted on Thu Sep 17 2009

Officeclue

Michael Scott did it in the warehouse with a "World's Best Boss" mug. At least, that's how it might turn out if indeed the titular head of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton, Pa., branch killed his mild-mannered frenemy, Toby. But this is just a game, after all, and the murderer in the Office version of Clue has to be Dwight anyway. He's the shifty one with the hair-trigger temper and an unnatural attachment to his boss. Plus, he's a cat euthanizer! The whodunit board game, made by USAOPOLY via a Hasbro license and a deal with NBC Universal's consumer products division and the show's producer, Reveille, launched recently at Borders, Barnes & Noble and other retailers. It puts the paper-company employees of the Emmy-winning NBC comedy in the office on a Saturday—of course they're grumbling about overtime—to figure out who offed Toby, the head of human resources. (Toby's probably not really dead, by the way.) The timing's good—the new season of The Office premieres tonight—and what fan doesn't want to extend the experience by accusing Jim Halpert of doing it in the parking lot with a rabid bat?

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Jimmy Fallon, as Robert Pattinson, is bothered by Snickers ads

Posted on Wed Sep 9 2009

He gets stalked by the paparazzi, attacked by hormonal teenage fans and dragged through the tabloids. But you know what really bugs Robert Pattinson? Snickers ads! Well, it's actually Jimmy Fallon channeling the Twilight heartthrob on his NBC talk show in a series of short videos he calls "Robert Is Bothered." Fallon, who has obviously noticed that Pattinson broods even when he's not playing conflicted-vampire-in-love Edward Cullen, rags on Discovery Channel's Shark Week and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in the guise of the now-world-famous young Brit. In the video here, he unleashes some of the best vitriol on the "Snacklish" campaign for Snickers, which includes words like "Hungerectomy," "Nougetaboutit" and "Peanutopolis." Fallon/Pattinson's favorite word in Snacklish? "Bothered!" Points awarded for the videos' setting, reminiscent of a pivotal scene in the Twilight film, Fallon's preening and posing, and the creative use of a blow-up doll (just watch). It's a gag that has a shorter shelf life than a candy bar, but it'll be fun while it lasts.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Jay Leno is twisted, and funny, in bleak promo for his NBC show

Posted on Thu Aug 20 2009

Leno

If Jay Leno had been this subversively funny at 11:30, I might've been watching him instead of Letterman all these years. So, why wait until now, when his show is moving from late night into more ad-friendly prime time, to give us a glimpse of his twisted side? This NBC promotion, now running on 15,000 multiplex screens in front of PG-13 and R-rated movies, shows Blair Witch-style "lost footage" of Leno and Fred Armisen driving in the desert, where they run over and kill ... something. Then it ladles on the noir, with an aftermath that includes yet another major crime, caught in grainy hand-held glory. So, what's the take-away here? That Leno's a better actor than anyone's given him credit for, and that he's been hiding his dark, Coen-brothers sensibility? Or that famous people get away with all kinds of mayhem? (This is L.A., after all). I don't know, but I get the feeling it's a bait and switch, since most of the on-air promos for The Jay Leno Show (launching Sept. 14) have him goofing on people who don't know what the Gettysburg Address is or who lives in the Vatican City. If it turns out to be an accurate peek at what's in store for his switch to 10 p.m., count me in. (Will he have celebrities with fewer clothes?)

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Weirdos and criminals count on NBC New York for the best news

Posted on Fri Aug 14 2009

A washed-up, junk-food-addicted runway model. An embezzling CFO. A shady real-estate broker. No, they don't walk into a bar. They appear in new ads from Mother in New York for local NBC Web sites. Liz, a faded beauty turned agoraphobe; Ron, a former CFO who's now doing grunt work in a restaurant kitchen; and Ted, a real-estate broker on house arrest in a fabulous pad—from the looks of it, they're sad, disgraced and unrepentant, respectively, and they all rely on NBC's crack Web sites to make it through the day. Is this supposed to boost traffic? (The campaign is running in 10 cities, via print and TV.) Could be I'm missing something here, or that the philosophy behind the spots—everybody needs information, especially when their lives are disintegrating!—isn't working for me. They're just too bleak, and kind of mean. Sure, having a laugh at how the mighty have fallen is zeitgeist-y at the moment. But wouldn't the ads have to be funny to serve that purpose?

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Subway's support of 'Chuck' has not gone unnoticed in TV land

Posted on Tue Aug 4 2009

NBC spy-lite series Chuck may not have the market cornered on partnerships with fast-food restaurants that rescue TV shows on the verge of cancellation. Glenn Gordon Caron, executive producer of paranormal-tinged drama Medium, said he had an ace up his sleeve to stay in the good graces of NBC at renewal time. "We had a whole Quiznos thing set up," he said at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena. He was kidding, but it sure wouldn't have hurt to write a story line for a big media-spending fast-food marketer, like Chuck did with Subway. Medium, which stars Patricia Arquette and Jake Weber, was indeed dumped by NBC, even though it had better ratings than Chuck. The latter show's buzz, whipped up in part by Subway promotions and stunts, translated to a new-season order. Medium, meanwhile, will head to CBS, paired with the well-watched Ghost Whisperer. Caron sees a silver lining (read: better marketing) around the fall launch of the show's sixth season. "CBS has already run more promos than NBC did in five years," he said. "But I say that with love in my heart."

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

McDonald's gets a new clown and then some, thanks to NBC

Posted on Tue Jul 14 2009

Jay.Leno When NBC said Jay Leno's new prime-time show would be a willing home for advertiser pitches, it wasn't kidding. The custom-created set's nearly as big as an airplane hangar, with plenty of room for Leno to drive his beloved classic cars, and presumably a sponsor's, on stage. He's likely to do live commercials, a tactic that's both a throwback to TV's early days and one used in current daytime chat shows.  Now, NBC is partnering with McDonald's to promote The Jay Leno Show with the launch of a month-long Monopoly game. Leno will get exposure in McD's 13,000 restaurants, which could be a real boon for his move from late night to 10 p.m. (There are a lot of naysayers on how well this time switch will work out). And the fast food chain will get a mini-version of its restaurant on the show, which is a precedent setter. The game works like this: Stars of NBC shows will roll dice—yes, synergy at work. Consumers will win as much as $1 million in cash. And Leno will frame it all with advertiser-friendly banter. That's one way to deal with the current ad climate, where marketers want the most bang out of their buck, including new levels of brand integration and talent involvement. What remains to be seen is how the audience reacts to such front-and-center shilling. 

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

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