February 7, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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>NBC used its 9:30 half hour to keep hammering away at the debut of Smash, coming up at long last in mere minutes.  The network devoted 90 seconds — one 30-second spot and one 60-second spot — in a half hour which was peaking with a very strong 7.7 rating.  The full-minute spot focused on Katharine McPhee’s character (reminding us “she’s a STAR!” and “she glows!”).  Not much in the new way of new material and certainly not a fresh creative take, but the spot was elegantly cut.  At 9:59, The Voice host Carson Daly summed up the second night of blind auditions and set up Smash as another show about chasing your dreams through performance, immediately tossing to the start of the new drama.  A very well-formatted night, and now it is up to Smash itself to see if it can bring viewers in the next few weeks and not lose them at the rate it did over the course of the hour as the audience finally saw the real thing.  

NBC also hit Friday’s Grimm, emphasizing the monster of the week, a very scary female spider with a lot of graphics and special visual tricks (more than just a standard clip spot).  In terms of new programs, Fashion Star was promoted partly by emphasizing host Elle MacPherson and mentor Jessica Simpson but also by pushing the curious benefit that viewers can buy the clothes they see on the show the next day in stores.  Perhaps that attribute tested well in research, yet it hardly seems like a reason to make an appointment to view or to set your DVR. 

CBS on-air promotion, disciplined as always, focused mainly on shows coming up later in the evening or the next day.  Without many new shows to launch, CBS concentrates on its successful core schedule with a relatively high number of shorter-length spots.  NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles are promoted as one with combo spots, while Unforgettable pushed the well-used device of a ticking clock to stop a sniper before he strikes again, as well as announcing the arrival of Jane Curtin to the cast of the drama that is looking to break out of mediocre ratings.  Also, a few mentions for Sunday’s Grammy Awards.

ABC hit GCB (Good Christian Bitches) last night with a bright, colorful spot filled with fighting and catty comments.  It generally looks loud and boisterous and is either going to resonate with ABC’s core female audience spectacularly or just land with a thud.  The final line of the GCB promo (“and ye shall receive”) was echoed in a Last Man Standing promo which proclaimed “you’ve been praying for a full hour” — not only a full hour of Tim Allen’s comedy but one with guest star Kim Kardashian!  The spot for Grey’s Anatomy did not lean toward answered prayers, just bad writing.  Paraphrasing: Thursday’s episode is all about Valentine’s Day, all about heart and HEART STOPPING DRAMA!  I’ll pray for a better promotional theme next time.  Tomorrow’s premiere of The River received very little attention, but remember we are not sampling the entire night of each network so we might have missed other important elements.  Finally, the trailer for Castle emphasized guest star Jennifer Beals next week in the start of a “two-week event”.

FOX has a little of everything last night: Glee with guest star Ricky Martin, American Idol moving to Hollywood after the auditions (complete with collapsing contestants and medics on the set), a few hits for the Alcatraz episode that were so unmemorable it is no wonder the telecast plunged to a 2.2 rating, and short reminder spots for The Finder and Touch.

We will not be posting promo-second numbers until we have several days of data under out belt — look for those charts later this week or early next week.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."