New Season Hits Viewers Over Head With More Marketing Tricks Than Ever

Two marketing parades will look to move festively and with purpose this week: the new TV season and the fourth annual Advertising Week.

But New York City won't have the advertising icons and parades of years ago. Still, there'll be a lot of advertising to consider as ad execs saunter among many events. For the new TV season, the small-screen march begins with trepidation. Will viewers line the streets to watch the clowns, the drama, and throw confetti?

All those network marketing stunts -- ABC's "Pushing Daisies" offering up a screening at a cemetery; free Internet screenings of Fox's new shows on iTunes; cute marketing lines for CBS shows on eggs -- will, TV execs hope and pray, lead to sunny ratings weather and big crowds.

Will this get TV marketers to "open" their shows? Strong knowledge says ratings could dip again (even including newfangled DVR playback). Want evidence? Look at last week's debuts: "Kid Nation," "Back To You," and "Kitchen Nightmares" all opened to weak 3.1 rating. And none of those shows aired against any real competition, because the season hadn't officially started yet.

What if this pre-marketing doesn't work? Think "snipes," "crawls," and "bugs" -- that's the on-air marketing pollution that goes on while a show goes on. Get ready for even more inundated viewers this season: They will be reminded, while watching one TV show, that there are other shows to watch on the network as well.

One day it'll all backfire. Viewers will look at those marketing tricks and be convinced. Right then and there they'll decide the network is right; they'll shut off the show they are watching, gaze into space, and wait for the other show to start.

Plain and simple: TV networks need to get high ratings to attract the most money from advertisers.

TV Guide is ready to help out some TV shows; its new commercials are blurbs about, say, "Grey Anatomy's" during the show. That might be product integration for some; for others, it means finally giving marketing teams, such as those at ABC, a breather, knowing that someone else is doing the heavy marketing lifting in keeping viewers' interest in programs, in commercials.

Be ready for TV networks to try anything -- wild press stories, crazier marketing tricks, more Internet screenings, and bigger cemeteries. ABC has even been working on commercials that start during a show on, say, a fictional family's living room TV.

Will viewers warm to these tactics --- or will the savvy, knowing TV watchers have their fingers on the remote's fast-forward button? The latter is still better, however, than the other option: those fingers pressing the off button.


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