As it moves into the comedy genre, CMT is deploying a marketing campaign that stretches from a popular Facebook game to the more traditional direct mail and mall signage.
Hoping to jump-start "Working Class," starring former "Reba" star Melissa Peterman and comedic legend Ed Asner, CMT will integrate links to a trailer for the show within Facebook's "Social City." Players who watch the video can receive bonus items.
Part of Viacom's MTV Networks, CMT is also a sponsor of female blogger convention Blissdom, where it hopes to seed attendees with information about "Working Class" and turn them into evangelists for it.
Asner plays a disgruntled neighbor to Peterman's mother character in the show, which launches Jan. 28. CMT has ordered 12 episodes. The series is CMT's first original comedy.
Also part of the launch campaign, which carries the "Something's Funny on CMT" tagline, are signs in supermarkets. Promotions are also inside Valpak mailers. CMT has also bought time on female-oriented networks Bravo, Oxygen, Lifetime, WE and TLC, and pages in People, Entertainment Weekly and several other national magazines.
"We really have pretty much pulled out all the stops," said Amanda Phillips, who oversees consumer marketing at the network.
The campaign's budget appears to be the highest in CMT history. The network targets 18- to-49 year-olds, but Phillips said the campaign is aimed at a 25-to-49 subset, skewing female.
In recent years, CMT's original shows have been reality ventures, such as "World's Strictest Parents" and the "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders" franchise. But the network has found comedy performs well with both films and stand-up specials with Jeff Foxworthy. Mary Beth Cunin, who runs programming at CMT, said research shows the audience is not looking for "deep" or "intense" content, but comic relief and "comfort food."
Heartening CMT is the success fellow Viacom networks TV Land and BET have had with original comedies "Hot in Cleveland" and "The Game," respectively. "We're definitely always looking to expand our programming opportunities and scripted is the way we're going right now," Phillips said.
Cunin said, "Working Class" was already in development when 89-year-old Betty White helped TV Land's "Hot in Cleveland" soar, so she's optimistic that the 81-year-old Asner will have a similar effect on "Working Class."
"It made us a little more confident in what we we're doing," she said.
Famous for his role on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show," Asner plays the curmudgeonly neighbor/friend to Carli Mitchell (Peterman), a single mom with three kids searching for a better life in an upscale suburb.